USDA activates Sudden Oak Death hotline, staffs emergency operations center

WASHINGTON, March 19, 2004

A toll-free Sudden Oak Death hotline has been established and U.S. Department of Agriculture Plant Protection and Quarantine program specialists are staffing the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service Emergency Operations Center in Riverdale, Md., in response to the positive confirmation of Phytopthora ramorum, or Sudden Oak Death, on plants in two Southern California nurseries.

The Sudden Oak Death hotline number, 1-888-703-4457, is set up to direct incoming calls from the nursery and landscape industry, news organizations, and the general public. Program staffers will operate the AEOC Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. eastern standard time. After operating hours, the public affairs and pest detection staff members will remotely check the automated voice messaging system to respond to SOD questions. For more information on the SOD hotline, call Claude Knighten at (301) 436-3148.