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South Auckland myrtle rust test negative

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 10/05/2017

Tests for one nursery in South Auckland suspected of having the fungal plant disease myrtle rust has come back negative

The disease, which can have potentially devastating effects, was found at a Kerikeri nursery and a neighbouring home.

Earlier on Wednesday the Ministry of Primary Industries revealed it was sampling and testing the south Auckland property.

All other suspect reports that were sampled have tested negative for myrtle rust, including another Northland nursery that was suspected on Tuesday.

More than 100 government staff are working to contain the spread of the disease, having checked all sites within a 500m radius of the original nursery where it was found.

Prime Minister Bill English said on Monday no limit has been put on the amount MPI can spend on its search and destroy mission against myrtle rust.

However, MPI said containing it may not be possible.

"This is a disease that spreads by microscopic spores that can be carried by the wind and on people, vehicles and equipment," director Geoff Gwyn said.

It attacks trees that included natives like pohutukawa and rata, and there's concern it could have a serious impact on the honey industry if it gets into manuka trees.

The fungus has been called a hideous disease by conservationists because there is no known method for controlling it in the wild, other than applying fungicide in very small areas.

It is easily spread by wind carrying its spores and no country has been able to eradicate it so far.

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