White Spot surveillance detects new case

2 Mar 2023

NSW Department of Primary Industries (DPI) has detected White Spot at a second prawn farm in northern NSW on 25 February 2023.

NSW Chief Veterinary Officer, Sarah Britton, said NSW DPI laboratory tests confirmed White Spot at the second facility after White Spot was identified earlier last month at a nearby prawn farm.

“Following two confirmations of White Spot and the need to continue wild crustacean surveillance, the control order has been extended until 29 March 2023,” Dr Britton said.

“The extended control order allows us to gather more evidence to help determine the significance of previous results. Extended surveillance will provide critical data for tracing and evidence to inform requirements for future management approaches.

“NSW DPI is working with both farms to ensure biosecurity directions are in place to eradicate White Spot through accelerated destocking and destruction, which has now been completed at the first infected farm.”

White Spot poses no threat to human health. It is a highly contagious viral infection which affects crustaceans and can cause major mortalities in farmed prawns.

NSW prawns remain safe for human consumption and consumers can continue to purchase NSW prawns from local seafood suppliers.

No raw, uncooked prawns and polychaete worms, including seafood and fishing bait, caught on or after 12 February 2023 can be moved outside the Clarence Estuary.

NSW DPI and the Australian Centre for Disease Preparedness have confirmed the sequence of the White Spot DNA from the first farm.

Sequencing tests indicate the White Spot strain from the NSW 12 February 2023 detection is strongly similar to the strain detected in NSW in August 2022 and is not the same as the south-east Queensland detection in 2016.

While there is there is no current evidence of active White Spot infection in NSW wild prawn populations, trace levels of White Spot DNA were found in a small number of wild caught prawns from the Clarence Estuary.

Continuing surveillance sampling of wild caught prawns and crustaceans will determine the significance of these results.

Following the detections and preliminary surveillance findings, prawn farms in the Clarence Estuary have increased surveillance levels.

White Spot was first detected in NSW in August 2022 and was eradicated in September 2022.

More information is available from NSW DPI, https://www.dpi.nsw.gov.au/fishing/aquatic-biosecurity/pests-diseases/animal-health/aquaculture/white-spot

Media contact: 02 6391 3686 or email: nswdpi.media@dpi.nsw.gov.au