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Virus Hits Crawfish Pond; Quarantine, Tests Under Way

US - A virus that could threaten the states crawfish industry has been confirmed in a commercial pond in St. Martin Parish, prompting a quarantine of the pond and a testing program to determine the spread of the disease.

White spot disease poses no known risk to humans but can wreak havoc on crustaceans.

Commissioner of Agriculture and Forestry Bob Odom said a commercial pond in Arnaudville was quarantined in late April when white spot disease was suspected in the death of crawfish there.

He said test results received last week confirmed the presence of the disease, which had never before been documented in the state’s crawfish crop.

Neighboring ponds are being tested to determine if the disease has spread, Odom said.

He said tests are under way at ponds in Vermilion Parish where crawfish have shown symptoms.

The state Department of Wildlife and Fisheries is asking commercial fishermen in the Atchafalaya Basin to report any infected crawfish.

“We are trying to see if it’s in a few ponds or if it is widespread. We are hoping it is these few areas where it can be contained,” said John Hawke, LSU School of Veterinary Medicine associate professor who works with the Louisiana Aquatic Diagnostic Laboratory.

White spot disease, named for the abnormal calcium deposits on the shells of infected crustaceans, was first reported in commercial shrimp farms in Asia in the early 1990s, according to information from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.