The Texas Department of Agriculture and the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) have confirmed the first detection in Texas of citrus greening, a destructive plant disease that poses a threat to the state’s citrus industry. The disease was discovered in a tree in a commercial orange grove in San Juan.

The disease poses no threat to human health as it affects only the tree and not the fruit itself. Although there is no cause for consumer alarm, the disease has caused serious economic damage to the citrus industries in Florida, Africa, Asia and South America. Citrus producers and homeowners with citrus plants are asked to comply with quarantine measures to protect Texas citrus trees.

“Recognizing other states and countries have dealt with citrus greening for years, we have trained and prepared for this possibility,” Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples said. “The Texas Department of Agriculture and USDA are implementing emergency precautions to mitigate the spread, and we also are taking immediate steps to protect our citrus industry. It is important to remember the oranges and grapefruit produced in Texas are safe to eat.”

Commissioner Staples has ordered a section of Hidalgo County under temporary emergency quarantine. Plants that can host the disease and are within a five-mile radius of the infected tree cannot be moved from the quarantine area. Citrus fruit harvested within the quarantined area must be free of leaf material and debris prior to movement outside of the area.

State and federal officials are conducting a comprehensive survey of the region to identify the extent of potential disease spread. On Jan. 20, TDA will establish a revised emergency quarantine zone based on the survey’s findings.