Xylella fastidiosa, the bacteria known as olive ebola, has been detected in Majorca for the first time. The regional government's plant health department has found three infected cherry trees in a nursery in Porto Cristo.
This is the first case of olive ebola to be confirmed in Spain. Its devastating impact - and there is no cure as yet - was first evident in Italy three years ago. The bacteria has also been detected in Corsica, Germany and the Côte d'Azur; it has devastated thousands of olive trees in Italy.
The regional environment ministry says that the strain of the bacteria in Majorca only attacks cherry trees and oleander. After the Porto Cristo finding was made in the middle of last month, all cherry trees and oleander plants at the nursery and within a 100 metre radius were burned. In addition, some one hundred other plants and trees have been destroyed as a preventive measure.
The bacteria can affect vines and almond trees as well, and so there is a great deal of concern at the environment ministry. Vicenç Vidal, the minister, visited the area in Manacor on Thursday - a total of 3.4 hectares (almost 8.5 acres), which includes adjoining farms. There is also a containment zone which covers a radius of ten kilometres; plants and trees will be regularly inspected for any sign of the bacteria. Posters are being put up advising of the zone, from which no cherry trees or oleander can be moved. It will remain for five years, as is required by European regulations.
The owner of the nursery, Maria Antònia Sansó, says that the bacteria was detected during a routine inspection and that her company has all the controls that are required. The infected trees came from a nursery in Tarragona on the mainland in 2012 and had all the regulatory controls.
The head of the plant health department, Andreu Joan, says that the Porto Cristo case is similar to one in Germany, where oleander in a nursery had been infected.