(WFRV) – The Wisconsin DNR confirmed the first case of oak wilt in Ashland County was found after the disease was found in wood samples.

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) announced that oak wilt has been found for the first time in Ashland County. Oak wilt is described as a deadly disease that affects oak trees.

Officials say that the disease was found in wood samples from a red oak tree in the Town of Gordon.

There is always the risk of oak wilt spreading into new and relatively uninfested areas in northern Wisconsin, such as Ashland County, so it’s always best to practice oak wilt prevention wherever possible to significantly reduce that risk.

Paul Cigan, DNR forest health specialist in Hayward

According to the DNR, the most obvious symptoms of oak wilt show up when the disease hits in mid-to-late summer. This leaves branches with wilted leaves and leaves on the ground during a time when it isn’t expected.

These are not the brown, dry leaves you see in autumn. These are partially green to bronze-green and are not completely dry. Once symptoms are visible, a tree loses most of its leaves and dies within a few weeks.

Paul Cigan, DNR forest health specialist in Hayward

Oak wilt is reportedly found commonly in the southern two-thirds of the state. The disease is ‘creeping north’ according to the DNR.

Officials provided some ways to prevent the spread of the disease:

  • Avoid pruning or injuring oak trees from April through July
  • If oaks are removed, pruned or damaged between April and July, seal the wounds with a water-based (latex) paint or pruning sealer
  • Keep firewood local

More information regarding oak wilt can be found on the DNR’s website.