Manhattan — Researchers at Kansas State University have confirmed cases of the devastating pine wilt disease in 11 western Kansas counties for the first time.
The Hutchinson News reports that the always-fatal disease first showed up in 1979 in Missouri and eastern Kansas. A state plant pathologist says no signs of a pine wilt invasion have been found in western Kansas until now.
In many cases the disease progresses so quickly that infected trees are dead within weeks.
A majority of pine wilt victims have been Scots pines, but now Austrian pines are starting to catch up.
Newly confirmed cases have been found in Barber, Finney, Hodgeman, Meade, Osborne, Pawnee, Phillips, Rooks, Rush, Seward and Smith counties.
Experts believe the disease was spread west by infested firewood from eastern Kansas.