white spot disease prawns
A prawn affected by white spot disease. Photo: daf.qld.gov.au

Update on white spot disease in prawns

FIVE infected premises in the Logan River area are continuing to undergo eradication activities for white spot disease in prawns.  At-risk premises in the area are also under heightened surveillance.

Following confirmation of the fifth infected premises last week, chlorine treatment of ponds is underway supported by early harvest to reduce biomass. All harvested prawns will be heat treated to destroy the virus. Bird control has been increased on at-risk premises to mitigate disease spread risk.

Surveillance in wild populations is also being enhanced to align with the new infected premises, epidemiological investigations and risk.

Reporting white spot disease online

Suspect cases of white spot disease can be reported to Biosecurity Queensland through the white spot disease online reporting tool on the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries website.

People who suspect white spot disease should contact Biosecurity Queensland immediately. The following information will be required:

  • Type of crustacean seen, caught or purchased with signs of white spot disease
  • Date the suspect crustacean was seen, caught or purchased
  • Where the suspect crustacean was seen, caught or purchased
  • Signs of white spot disease observed

Where possible, take a photo of the suspect crustacean and refrigerate or freeze a sample as we may require it for further inspection. Please complete the following steps to prepare the sample:

  • Keep all packaging with any bought purchase.
  • Separate out different species or product purchased from different stores.
  • Put it into plastic bags.
  • All samples should be chilled immediately after bagging—storing samples in the fridge/freezer will not affect other food items. Freeze samples if they are not scheduled for collection within 48 hours.

Using soapy water to clean hands and equipment will remove any virus that causes white spot disease if present.

WSD is a viral infection that affects crustaceans. Australia has previously been WSD free and this is the first confirmed case we have had in an aquaculture setting.

Prawns with WSD may have a loose shell with numerous white spots (0.5-2.0 mm in diameter) on the inside surface of the shell and a pink to red discolouration.

Signs to look for include:

  • unusual mortality
  • prawns coming to the edge or water surface of the pond
  • prawns demonstrating unusual swimming patterns
  • reduced feeding and failure to thrive

If you suspect a disease on your property, you must report it to Biosecurity Queensland on 13 25 23 or the Emergency Animal Disease Watch Hotline on 1800 675 888.

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