Disease Resilience

A banana plantation affected by fusarium wilt TR4 (Photo courtesy OECS)
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(St. Lucia Star) When the Caribbean talks resilience, it’s usually in relation to hurricanes or external economic shocks. What gets less attention, but can be just as destructive, is disease. Whether lobsters infected with a deadly virus, bananas battling highly contagious fungus, or coral reefs decimated by a tissue-eroding disease, the Caribbean is under attack from microscopic organisms that, despite their size, can be devastating to various sectors of the economy.

Tourism under attack

Much of the region’s tourism industry is reliant on its pristine, tropical environment. But when it comes to bothersome bacteria, the delicate ecology of the Caribbean is vulnerable on many fronts.

The beautiful, unique and biodiverse Caribbean coral that brings divers, snorkellers and boaters to the region’s waters is facing a new threat. First recorded in Florida in 2014, Stony Coral Tissue Loss Disease (SCTLD) is now in Caribbean waters, and stripping coral faster than scientists can save reefs. More than 20 species are thought to be at risk of the disease which eats away at coral tissue, leaving it bleached and lifeless. The voracious plague is capable of reducing hundred-year old coral to empty husks within weeks and it has been spreading quickly throughout the Caribbean, impacting reefs in Jamaica, St Maarten, St Thomas, the US Virgin Islands and the Dominican Republic.

Read more at: St. Lucia Star

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