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Hepatopancreatic necrosis disease (AHPND) in white shrimp. (Photo: BioAqua)

USDA informs first case of EMS in shrimp farm

Click on the flag for more information about United States UNITED STATES
Thursday, August 31, 2017, 22:00 (GMT + 9)

The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) has notified the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) of the first documented case of acute hepatopancreatic necrosis disease (AHPND), or EMS, in the United States, the Southern Shrimp Alliance (SSA) reported.

The SSA stated that the USDA’s notice reported an outbreak of AHPND amongst pacific white shrimp (vannamei) at a “semi-closed” shrimp farm in Cameron County, Texas in June 2017, confirmed through laboratory tests in July.

The notification reported that the source of the outbreak or origin of infection was “unknown or inconclusive” and that the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service Veterinary Services, along with the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, were “conducting an epidemiological investigation of the event.”

The SSA stresses that it is unclear what steps, if any, have been undertaken by federal agencies to prevent the spread of the virus associated with AHPND/EMS, Vibrio parahaemolyticus, beyond encouraging best management practices.

In contrast, other countries have begun to take aggressive measures to prevent the spread of disease from shrimp aquaculture operations.

The Alliance points out that in response to a letter it sent in April 2013 to the USDA, the US Department of Commerce, and the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), expressing its three concerns about the early mortality syndrome (EMS), the FDA asserted that “the most recent research indicates that EMS poses no human food safety risk” and that the “FDA believes that human food safety concerns related to EMS are minimal ...”

The SSA stresses that all three agencies argued that there was little risk of disease transmission through frozen shrimp and that Commerce, through the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), stated that “EMS is not known to be present in the United States.”

The Alliance clarified that each of its letters acknowledged the severity of the threat posed to shrimp production by EMS and that the USDA explained that it “is aware of the impact that a disease such as EMS could have if it were to become established in the United States.”

The USDA also observed that “following best management practices including biosecurity greatly reduces the risk of this or any number of water-borne aquaculture diseases spreading between farms, or from farms to wild shrimp resources.”

The SSA highlighted that the USDA concluded its letter by promising that the agency “will continue to monitor new scientific findings about EMS as they emerge, and we will take these into account when determining what actions may be warranted to ensure the U.S. shrimp is protected.”


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