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What is the status of tomato brown rugose fruit virus in Europe?

According to reports shared by the European and Mediterranean Plant Protection Organization (EPPO), Finland is one of the latest countries in Europe to join the already long list of places where the Tomato Brown Rugose Fruit Virus (ToBRFV) is officially present. The country recently informed the EPPO Secretariat of the first detection of the virus on its territory in July 2022, in a small 600 m² greenhouse producing tomatoes (Solanum lycopersicum) in the municipality of Turku.

"The origin of the outbreak is unknown, and trace-back investigations are ongoing. The plants had been delivered from another production site," says the report. However, when looking at EPPO data, it is clear that the spread of the disease, since its appearance in Jordan in 2015 and its detection in Europe at the end of 2018, is certainly difficult to trace or control.

In November 2018, the first ToBRFV outbreak was detected in Germany in 7 tomato greenhouses in North Rhine-Westphalia. Just one month later, in December 2018, Italy reported the first detection of the disease in a greenhouse in Ispica, a Sicilian municipality in the province of Ragusa; and in January 2019, Turkey officially acknowledged the presence of the virus in a greenhouse in Demre, near Antalya. A wave of detections continued, also beyond the European continent. In early 2019, Mexico reported 117 outbreaks in 20 states, and China also reported its first infections.

In May of the same year, Italy reported a second infection in Piedmont, while the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Greece, and Spain reported the first appearance of the disease in their territories.

In 2020, the virus became present in France, Poland, Cyprus, Cyprus, Czech Republic, and Belgium; specifically in Belgium, the ToBRFV "was detected for the first time in August 2020, following trace-back activities carried out by the Dutch NPPO in a batch of tomato seeds used to grow tomato plants for experiments in a greenhouse (biosafety level 2) at a University", and "was detected again in December 2020 in a greenhouse for tomato fruit production."

In 2021, Malta reported the presence of the disease for the first time, as did Bulgaria, Norway, Austria, Estonia, Slovenia, Switzerland, Portugal and Hungary, "where infected tomato plants from the Netherlands were found in Lébény," as reported by EPPO. In the case of Portugal, "the virus was detected in two nurseries located in the Algarve region, one in Tavira county and one in Faro county, during an official survey in August 2021. The virus was detected in tomato seeds originating from China (in the case of Tavira) and Israel (in the case of Faro)."

The list of countries where ToBRFV has been detected in a relatively short time, as well as the new detections in territories where the first infections were already under control, give an idea of how easily this virus spreads and the need to share transparent information about the situation in each country.

For this reason, it is possible to consult all reports published by the European and Mediterranean Plant Protection Organization here.