After first popping up back in 2008, officials have grown more concerned about the spread of disease that damages citrus plants.
Citrus greening has established footholds in Lousiana and Florida, but it may have spread to downtown Charleston and a quarantine is in effect on citrus plants in Charleston County.
The disease is harmless to humans but damages the quantity and quality of fruit from infected plants -- which include oranges, lemons, limes, grapefruits, kumquats, and so on.
Clemson University reports on the disease:
Other than tree removal, there is no effective control once a tree is infected and there is no known cure for the disease.
Citrus greening reduces the quantity and quality of citrus fruits, eventually rendering infected trees useless. In areas of the world affected by citrus greening the average productive lifespan of citrus trees has dropped from 50 or more years to 15 or less. Citrus trees in orchards usually decline within 3 to 5 years after becoming infected and require removal and replanting.
But not all may be lost, The Christian Science Monitor writes that spinach gene splicing may help fight the disease.