Tomato brown rugose fruit virus confirmed in Slovenia

Ljubljana – The first case of tomato brown rugose fruit virus (ToBRFV), a highly infectious plant virus that is jeopardising tomato and pepper crops, has been confirmed in Slovenia after a close encounter with the virus in spring.

The virus was confirmed by the National Institute of Biology as part of national monitoring programme, and measures are under way to prevent the spread of the disease, the Agriculture Ministry announced on Friday.

The infected fruit is smaller, has yellow spots, wrinkled patches and brown scars, which makes it unsellable. The infection can also cause the decay of the plant.

The virus is not dangerous to people or animals.

However, it can spread easily by means of saplings, seeds and fruits. It is also transmitted by machinery, tools, packaging, by hands, clothing and contacts between plants as well as by insects.

The ministry also notes that the virus can survive for months in the residue or waste of the infected plants, in the soil, on machines, tools, equipment, clothing and packaging.

It was imported into the EU a few years ago with seed imports and the European Commission imposed measures to prevent it from being imported into the EU and spreading around.

Growers were warned to be vigilant and to notify the authorities in case of even the smallest suspicion as early detection is key to the success of measures to root out the disease and prevent its spread.

Despite the preventive measures, the virus is present in several EU member countries.

In spring, Slovenia detected the ToBRFV virus in a supply of pepper seeds from the Czech Republic, which had been imported from China, and confirmed it by a PCR test, but measures were taken fast to destroy the seeds and plants and sanitary measures were ordered to prevent transmission.