Q: Can oak wilt-contaminated tools spread oak wilt? How can they be sanitized?
A: The likelihood of transmitting oak wilt from tree to tree with pruning equipment is low. Oak wilt is caused by a little organism, a fungus, and it’s a very fragile fungus. It you heat it above 95F, or you drop the moisture below 20% in the tree, you kill the fungus. The fungus cannot tolerate those conditions. A chain saw blade gets hotter than 95F and so it kills the fungus. For a pole saw, or a hand saw, you should sterilize your equipment between trees because of other tree diseases that could possibly be moved through the equipment. One example is fire blight that affects any plants in the rose family, such as pyracantha, peaches, pears, cherries, etc.
It is a good idea to sanitize your saws and loppers with rubbing alcohol, Lysol spray disinfectant, or a 10 - 20% bleach solution (such as Clorox) for 30 seconds,. Q: What about firewood? Is it safe to burn wood from a tree that died of oak wilt?