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For Immediate Release: November 23, 2005


HONOLULU – A small batch of baby shrimp from Japan that was being held under quarantine conditions have tested positive for White Spot Syndrome Virus (WSSV), a serious shrimp disease.  The immature Japanese tiger shrimp were imported two months ago under an import permit issued to Hawaii Kuruma Shrimp and were being held in primary 120-day quarantine at the aquaculture complex at Windward Community College.   Test results confirming the disease were received from the mainland yesterday and the shrimp have been destroyed.

WSSV is highly contagious and fatal to shrimp and other crustaceans; however, it does not pose any threat to human health, even if affected shrimp are consumed.   As the name suggests, shrimp with the disease may exhibit white spots and rapid death usually follows.  It is not known at this time how the shrimp became infected.

“The detection and diagnosis of this disease in this case demonstrates the importance and effectiveness of the quarantine procedures that are in place,” said Sandra Lee Kunimoto, Chairperson of the Hawaii Board of Agriculture.  “Given the initial safeguards required and the small amount of shrimp involved, we are extremely confident that the disease was contained to that facility and depopulation and disinfection is almost complete.”

A total of 10,000 baby shrimp were imported, the biomass of which would fit in a gallon bucket.  They were being held in a 12-foot diameter above-ground pool.  Effluent was being treated with chlorine, so there was no discharge of infected water.

“Hawaii has an international reputation for raising superior, healthy shrimp stock,” said Dr. James Foppoli, State Veterinarian.  “Monitoring for diseases such as WSSV is important to protect our growing aquaculture industry.”

The immature shrimp were imported for brood stock development and were placed under required quarantine conditions upon arrival on September 25. 

“We appreciate the excellent cooperation of the importer in helping us handle this situation properly and responsibly,” said John Corbin, manager of the Aquaculture Development Program. “The potential for Hawaii aquaculture is tremendous and the health of the industry relies on prompt reporting and management of any disease problem.”

As a condition of the permit to import the shrimp, routine samples were taken by Dr. Allen Riggs, aquaculture veterinarian with the Hawaii Department of Agriculture on November 4th.  A presumptive positive test result was received for WSSV, prompting additional analyses of samples by the Aquaculture Pathology Laboratory at the University of Arizona-Tucson for confirmation.  Dr. Riggs has been assisting in proper handling of the situation at the facility.



Janelle Saneishi
Public Information Officer
Hawaii Department of Agriculture
Phone: (808) 973-9560
[email protected]