By Brian Ping

LOS ANGELES (CBS) — A potentially devastating citrus disease could take a bite out of Southland fruit lovers for at least the next couple of years.

KNX 1070’s Brian Ping reports California agriculture officials are taking action after a San Gabriel Valley tree tested positive for citrus greening.

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Spread by a small insect known as the Asian citrus psyllid, the bacteria — which causes a tree to produce bitter fruit and eventually die — has been blamed for billions in lost earnings and thousands of lost jobs in Florida and around the world.

“It ranks right up there with the worst problems that can face a citrus growth,” said Jay Van Rein with the California Department of Food and Agriculture. “This is something that’s essentially a death sentence for a citrus tree.”

And with no known cure or treatment for the disease, officials are desperately trying to prevent the bacteria from making its way to the Central Valley, home to 80 percent of the state’s citrus crop.

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They had largely succeeded in that effort until a tree in Hacienda Heights tested positive earlier this year.

Now state agriculture officials have imposed a two-year quarantine within about a 10-mile radius of the affected tree in Hacienda Heights.

The quarantine means for at least the next two years, residents will be prohibited from removing any homegrown fruit from the affected area, although it is still considered safe for consumption.

“What we don’t want to do is share it outside of that property, we don’t want to share fruits, we want to limit that activity so that we don’t risk spreading this disease from one area to a brand new area,” said Van Rein.

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The disease poses no threat to the health of humans or animals, according to officials.