This rapid diagnostic method has been developed by city-based Agharkar Research Institute (ARI) and could save the Indian aquaculture industry Rs 1,800 crore a year.
The test, which can be conducted on a simple diagnostic strip by dropping a fluid from the gills of the shrimps, can detect white spot disease in 20 minutes, much quicker than the current practice of sending samples to the laboratory and getting results in 3-5 days, reports the TimesOfIndia.
White spot disease can spread among healthy shrimps in just a few minutes. Scientists therefore said the diagnostic test of the virus in the early stages will control the outbreak and the losses shrimp farming suffers.
At present, farmers spend Rs 1,000 on each sample they send for testing while the test developed by ARI would cost around Rs 100 to Rs 200 when it goes commercial.
Farmers can avoid the nexus between the laboratory and the hatcheries that cheat farmers by giving false results of the tested sample.
ARI director Kishore Paknikar and author of the research article published in PLOS One journal on January 3, said: "The virus spreads so fast among shrimps and mortality could reach up to 100 per cent in three to 10 days of infection. The laboratory technique of detection is highly sensitive, specific and provides an accurate diagnosis. However, it is costly, time-consuming, requires specialized equipment and skilled personnel and therefore not usable in field conditions. On the other hand, dot blot strips can be used to screen individual and pooled shrimp samples."
The ARI team comprised PhD student Prabir Kumar Kulabhusan and scientist Jyutika and collaborators from the OIE Reference Laboratory led by A S Sahul Hameed.
Mr Hameed said ARI's diagnostic test will help farmers take the kit to the hatchery and test for disease themselves at a very low cost. If they find that the sample contains the virus, the farmer could avoid taking the batch of shrimps. If he wants to further confirm the test, he could send it to the laboratory.
"At the hatcheries, there are different tanks which are numbered and each tank contains one lakh to five lakh shrimps. The farmers usually pick samples from the tanks and send to the lab for testing. If the lab tests the sample positive for the disease then the farmer avoids taking shrimps from these tanks," he added.