Maize lethal necrosis disease

Preferred Scientific Name: Maize lethal necrosis disease

Maize lethal necrosis disease is caused by a combination of Maize chlorotic mottle virus and Sugarcane mosaic virus. 

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Why is it a problem?

The disease is spread by insects that feed on maize. The disease causes a severe systematic necrosis, which culminates in the death of the plant. In Kenya, it has resulted in crop losses of between 50 – 90%, with some areas experiencing total loss of yield. 


  • Severe crop losses
  • Negative impact on food security
  • Negatively impacts livelihoods

What’s the solution?

Manual control

Effective control of both of the counterpart plant diseases at seed level can lessen the chances of Maize lethal necrosis disease occurring. Seed inspectors can check for Maize lethal necrosis disease, Maize chlorortic mottle virus and sugarcane mosaic virus in seed farms. 

Biological methods

Equally, by monitoring and controlling the transportation of maize crops, the spread of Maize lethal necrosis disease could be controlled. Also, it is possible to breed varieties of maize which are relatively resistant to the diseases that result in Maize lethal necrosis disease.

Fact file

Name Maize lethal necrosis disease


Africa, Asia & North/South America

For more information on distribution, view the full datasheet available here


Cultivated land

Natural enemies



Spread by a variety of insect vectors 

Likelihood of entry

Accidental spread from seed farms

Further reading

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