Disease wreaks havoc on some MS sassafras trees

PICAYUNE, MS (AP) - A state forestry official says a disease spread by small beetles has begun attacking redbay and sassafras trees in Mississippi.

State forestry health coordinator Randy Chapin told The Picayune Item the laurel wilt infestation has quickly spread from Georgia to coastal Jackson County, MS.

Chapin says the infestation has the potential to wipe out the two species. He says it only takes one beetle to bore into one tree to cause the tree to die, and there's no cure for the disease.

The beetle was spotted in Georgia in 2002 and then spread along the coast to Florida and South Carolina.

Researchers have discovered dead and dying trees in the Pascagoula River Basin and in the Mississippi Sandhill Crane National Wildlife Refuge.

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