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Devastating Tree Disease Sweeping Across Southeast US

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File photo of trees. (credit: Johannes Simon/Getty Images)

File photo of trees. (credit: Johannes Simon/Getty Images)

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RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — North Carolina forestry officials say a devastating disease affecting trees in the laurel family across the southeastern United States has now been discovered in Brunswick County.

The Forest Service said Thursday that cases of laurel wilt have been confirmed near the communities of Sandy Creek and Northwest.

The disease already has been spotted in South Carolina and Florida after first being detected in Georgia in 2002.

The disease can kill trees within a month of infection. It’s carried by the redbay ambrosia beetle, which is native to Southeast Asia.

Last year, officials found the beetle in Bladen, Columbus, Sampson and Pender counties.

Plants at risk from the fungus include sassafras, pondberry and spicebush trees. Officials say Mountain Laurel is not affected by the disease.

(© Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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