A DEADLY new virus is re-emerging in China, the first country hit by Covid 19 – but this time it is threatening to decimate many of the country’s shrimp farms.
Known as known as Decapod iridescent virus 1, it has infected up to a quarter of the shrimp farms in Guangdong province, the heart of production in the south of China. However, while it destroys Pacific White Shrimp (commonly called prawns in the UK) it is not thought to be harmful to humans. The development is being watched anxiously by other shrimp farming countries in Asia, most notably India which is a big exporter of Pacific shrimp to the UK and Europe.
The South China Morning Post says the virus first emerged six years ago but came back with a vengeance last Spring and again in February this year and is now seriously impacting on many farms in the province. It says the source of the virus is still unclear and there appears to be no effective means of preventing it from spreading.
The cause of the outbreak is also perplexing scientists and virologists. Some believe it spreads through water but a few people think it may be carried by humans which is why shrimp farmers have closed their territory to people from outside the region.
Huang Jie, Director General of the Network of Aquaculture Centres in Asia-Pacific said:
‘As far as we know, besides China, the virus has also appeared in Southeast Asian waters.’
The first signs of the disease seem to appear when the shells soften and the shrimp change to a reddish colour. And it only takes a further two or three days for stock on a farm to be totally destroyed. Shrimp farmer Zhong Qiang, who is based near Zhuhai City, said:
‘ Once a pond is infected there is very little we can do to prevent it from spreading to nearby ponds within a few days. And it does not discriminate between species.’