Published online: Oct 17, 2007 Alan Harman
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A single potato taken from a Prince Edward Island field has Canadian authorities on the alert for a new case of potato wart.

Canadian Food Inspection Agency acting regional director David Cameron tells the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. the suspected case is close to a field already known to be infected near Kensington, PEI.

The potato is being analyzed in a lab in Charlottetown, the PEI capital.

The discovery of potato wart in 2000 cost farmers millions of dollars when the United States shut its border to PEI imports for six months.

Cameron says a new protocol will ensure the border stays open this time around.

"The plan allows us to take action even on suspect cases," Cameron says. "Harvesting has been restricted in the field, as has entry. All the equipment that was in the field at the time has also been cleaned and disinfected.

"We have notified the U.S. and it's business as usual."

Cameron says the testing will take a week and, if the virus is confirmed, the field, being used for french fry production, will be taken out of potato production.

Potato wart disease is caused by the soil-borne fungus, Synchytrium endobioticum. It attacks the growing points on the potato plant, such as eyes, buds and stolon tips.