White Spot Syndrome Virus (WSSV) Concentrations in Crustacean Tissues – A Review of Data Relevant to Assess the Risk Associated with Commodity Trade

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SummaryWe have reviewed the available peer reviewed literature on pathogen load for white spot syndrome virus (WSSV) in species susceptible to infection. Data on pathogen load in traded commodities are relevant for undertaking import risk assessments for a specific pathogen. Data were available for several of the major penaeid shrimp species farmed for aquaculture and for one crab and crayfish species. Most data are based on experimental infection, but some data were available for farmed or wild shrimp. Owing to the unavailability of immortal cell lines to determine viral load of viable virus, quantitative PCR was the main method used for quantification. The viral loads measured in shrimp at the onset of mortality events were extremely high (in the order of 109–1010 copy numbers gram−1 of tissue). In a farm setting, the onset of increased mortalities will often trigger emergency harvests. Therefore, shrimp obtained from emergency harvests are likely to carry substantial concentrations of viral particles. Viral load did not vary greatly with tissue type. The WSSV load in wild crustaceans, farmed crustaceans not undergoing a mortality event or survivors of a mortality event was significantly lower (usually by multiple logs). Studies have also been undertaken in ‘vaccinated’ shrimp. One of the ‘vaccines’ led to a significant reduction of viral load in WSSV-exposed animals. The data obtained from the literature review are put into context with published information on minimal infectious dose and WSSV survival in frozen commodity shrimp.

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