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Virginia Institute of Marine Science

Publication Date



Diseases Of Aquatic Organisms





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White spot syndrome virus (WSSV) is the most important pathogen known to affect the sustainability and growth of the global penaeid shrimp farming industry. Although most commonly associated with penaeid shrimp farmed in warm waters, WSSV is also able to infect, cause disease in and kill a wide range of other decapod crustaceans, including lobsters, from temperate regions. In 2005, the European Union imported US$500 million worth of raw frozen or cooked frozen commodity products, much of which originated in regions positive for white spot disease (WSD). The presence of WSSV within the UK food market was verified by means of nested PCR performed on samples collected from a small-scale survey of supermarket commodity shrimp. Passage trials using inoculum derived from commodity shrimp from supermarkets and delivered by injection to specific pathogen-free Pacific white shrimp Litopenaeus vannamei led to rapid mortality and pathognomonic signs of WSD in the shrimp, demonstrating that WSSV present within commodity shrimp was viable. We exposed a representative European decapod crustacean, the European lobster Homarus gammarus, to a single feeding of WSSV-positive, supermarket-derived commodity shrimp, and to positive control material (L. vannamei infected with a high dose of WSSV). These trials demonstrated that lobsters fed positive control (high dose) frozen raw products succumbed to WSD and displayed pathognomonic signs associated with the disease as determined by means of histology and transmission electron microscopy. Lobsters fed WSSV-positive, supermarket-derived commodity shrimp (low dose) did not succumb to WSD (no mortality or pathognomonic signs of WSD) but demonstrated a low level or latent infection via PCR. This study confirms susceptibility of H. gammarus to WSSV via single feedings of previously frozen raw shrimp products obtained directly from supermarkets.




Fresh-Water Crayfish; Yellow Head Virus; Litopenaeus-Vannamei; Procambarus-Clarkii; Commodity Shrimp; Cancer-Pagurus; Wssv; Disease; Hyperthermia; Temperature