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A source at the Ministry of Agriculture has said that one of the Kingdom’s shrimp farms has been hit by White Spot Syndrome (WSS), a viral infection of no harm to humans but which has in the past devastated shrimp populations across the world.
The source said that “all the necessary precautionary measures and quarantining steps have been taken to bring the illness under control and stop it spreading”, as the industry seeks to prevent potentially huge losses.
Jabir Al-Shehri, Acting Undersecretary of the Ministry of Agriculture for Fish Wealth Affairs, said that WSS causes high death rates of shrimps as they lose their appetite and eat minimal amounts of food or even abstain altogether.
“They start gathering close to the water surface, their color reddens, and white spots appear on the head and abdomen,” he said. “Sometimes, however, the signs of illness don’t appear at all.”
Al-Shehri said that WSS first appeared in 1992 in several Asian countries with shrimp farms such as Taiwan, Japan and Korea, followed the next year by China where it led to a near collapse of the shrimp farming industry. In 1999, the illness was registered in the south of the United States of America and soon spread to other states.
“The virus can affect most crustacean species such as lobsters and crabs,” he said. “The illness has an incubation period of between three and five days, and mortality rates are more or less 100 percent after between three and ten days following the appearance of the symptoms.”
He said that sharp changes in the environment, stress-factors and increases in soil density influence the appearance and exacerbation of WSS, but added that it cannot be passed on to humans and is of no harm to people.
– Okaz/Saudi Gazette