Update on the white spot syndrome viral disease in prawns – Queensland, Australia.

So far, reports state that five prawn farms have now been affected, and the disease has been found in native crustaceans in the Logan River.

In a recent press-release, it states that "no definitive source of prawn disease has been found.’

“We are still looking at a number of pathways that may have resulted in the white spot disease incursion in Queensland, including imported feed or probiotics, contaminated equipment, or even discarded uncooked prawns—or bits of prawns—that were purchased to eat.

“…fishers using infected imported prawns for bait is one possible pathway for this disease to get into our river system and onto prawn farms—and is why prawns imported for human consumption should never be used for bait.”

The Department of Agriculture and Water Resources is responsible for managing Australia’s biosecurity system which is in place to safeguard Australia’s agriculture, fisheries and forestry industries worth over $60 billion to our economy.

In a knee-jerk reaction, Australia now bans import of raw prawns from countries where WSSV is endemic. This is contrary to the pro-active approach in banning imported raw salmon and pork products. Is it a little too late?

While a lot of effort is going into finding out where and when the disease came into Australia, I’d expect considerable efforts are also going into surveying our native crustacean and polychaete populations (wild and farmed), to prove freedom from disease… otherwise, the ban on imported raw prawn products will be seen as an unfair trade-barrier.

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Yours sincerely,

Dr Richmond Loh
DipProjMgt, BSc, BVMS, MPhil (Pathology), MANZCVS (Aquatics & Pathobiology), CertAqV, CMAVA, NATA Signatory.
Aquatic Veterinarian & Veterinary Pathologist
THE FISH VET, AUSTRALIA – PERTH | SYDNEY | MELBOURNE | TOWNSVILLE
Mobile Aquatic Veterinary Medical & Diagnostic Services.

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President WAVMA 2014
Adjunct Lecturer Murdoch University
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