White Spot Disease in Australia up to 2017: a chronology

14 August 2017

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Kate Loynes
Science, Technology, Environment and Resources

 

Introduction

White Spot Disease (WSD) is a viral infection caused by Whispovirus that causes death in up to 80% of affected farmed prawns. The disease begins with lack of appetite, uncoordinated movements and lethargy in affected animals, leading to death within a few days. White spots may or may not be present towards the final stages of the disease. The disease also infects crabs, lobsters and some marine worms, but these carry and spread the disease without showing any symptoms. The virus is not related to the fish disease also known as White Spot. WSD is harmless to humans and infected prawns can be eaten with no harmful effect.

The disease is rarely fatal in wild animals, but is fatal in farmed animals. Farmed prawns are especially susceptible due to the high numbers of individuals kept in confined spaces. The disease spreads quickly between animals kept in close contact. The high number of animals in a small area leads to less oxygen in the water and higher levels of waste products, which stress the prawns and make them more susceptible to disease. In farmed prawns WSD kills within two to four days, with death rates of up to 80%. The disease is highly infectious and can be transmitted by live or dead animals and by contaminated water.

The disease was first discovered in China in 1992 and has since spread throughout prawn farming areas of East, Southeast and South Asia, and it appears to have moved from the United States into Central and South America. The spread of the disease can be seen in the White Spot Disease reporting timeline by the World Animal Health Information Database.

Australia was considered free of WSD until an outbreak in December 2016 but it has had an almost constant presence in biosecurity policy, the aquaculture industry and research since the 2000s, as detailed below.

A note on names: All names of biosecurity agencies in this paper have been stated as per the document referenced, but there has been considerable change in how agencies are referred to over the past few years.

The Australian Quarantine Inspection Service (AQIS) referred to the on-the-ground agency that dealt with imports and testing of imported products. Biosecurity Australia referred to a section within the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry (now Department of Agriculture and Water Resources) that conducted Import Risk Analyses and issued policy advice and changes for imported products. In 2012 both the AQIS and Biosecurity Australia names were retired, with the term ‘biosecurity’ now used to refer to these functions of the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry.

Each Australian state also has its own biosecurity agency.

Date Details Source
1992 First global record of White Spot Disease (WSD) The disease is first seen in farmed prawns in China between 1991 and 1992. I J East, P F Black, K A McColl, R A J Hodgson and E-M Bernoth, ‘Survey for the presence of White Spot Syndrome virus in Australian crustaceans’, Australian Veterinary Journal, 82(4), April 2004, pp. 236–240.
1994 WSD spreads to South East Asia The disease spreads via the transportation of farmed prawns and appears in Thailand, Indonesia, Japan and the west coast of India. A Khatibi Tabar, ‘A review on White Spot Disease in penaeid shrimp farms with a brief study on its occurrence in shrimp aquaculture zones’, presentation for the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) workshop on national focal points for aquatic animals, 2010, Dubai.
Prior to 1996 No restrictions on importing uncooked prawns into Australia Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service, Draft Import Risk Analysis report for prawns and prawn products, 25 August 2000, p. 44.
November 1996 Import of uncooked prawns for bait suspended Importing prawns for any use other than human consumption (such as bait or animal feed) from any country is banned, following concerns raised by the National Task Force on Imported Fish and Fish Products. The Task Force recommends import requirements for prawns are reviewed as a high priority. Import conditions for prawns for human consumption are introduced in 2000 (see below). Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service, Draft Import Risk Analysis report for prawns and prawn products, 25 August 2000, p. 44; Biosecurity Australia, Generic Import Risk Analysis Report for Prawns and Prawn Products: Final Report, October 2009, p. 1.
May 1997 Biosecurity Australia’s Import Risk Analysis on prawn and prawn products begins Biosecurity Australia, Generic Import Risk Analysis Report for Prawns and Prawn Products: Final Report, October 2009, p. 1.
1998 Research shows WSD present in Asian prawns imported into USA Imported prawns purchased at supermarkets in the USA tested positive for WSD. The researchers suggest that infected prawns imported from Asia introduced WSD to Texas in 1997. LM Numan, BT Poulos and DV Lightner, ‘The detection of White Spot Syndrome Virus (WSSV) and Yellow Head Virus (YHV) in imported commodity shrimp’, Aquaculture, 160, 1998, pp. 19–30.
1999 WSD spreads across Central and South America The disease has been detected in Texas, South Carolina, Nicaragua, Honduras, Guatemala, Panama, Colombia, Peru, and Ecuador. I J East and others, ‘Survey for the presence of White Spot Syndrome virus in Australian crustaceans’, Australian Veterinary Journal, 82(4), April 2004, pp. 236–240; S V Durand, K F J Tang and D V Lightener, ‘Frozen commodity shrimp: Potential avenue for introduction of white spot syndrome virus and yellow head virus’, Journal of Aquatic Health, 12(2), Jan 2011, pp. 128–135.
1999 First identification of imported prawn with WSD in Australia A prawn famer recognised WSD symptoms on prawns served to him at a restaurant in Queensland and alerted authorities. Testing prawns from the same batch confirmed the presence of infectious WSD and that the WSD was most likely from South-East Asia. Northern Territory Seafood Council, ‘White spot syndrome virus’, Northern Territory Seafood Council News, 1(3), January–February 2001, pp. 1, 4–5; Northern Territory Department of Primary Industry and Fisheries, Summary report on the discovery of RNA signals similar to White Spot Syndrome virus in imported green prawns, February 2001
March 1999 Report on environmental impact of WSD in Australia released The report concluded that ‘the disease is unlikely to have any measurable impact on wild prawn populations should it become established in Australia’ but that for prawn farms WSD would be ‘initially devastating’. C Baldock, Environmental impact of the establishment of exotic prawn pathogens in Australia, AusVet Animal Health Services, commissioned by the Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service, March 1999.
April 1999 Report on economic impact of WSD in Australia released The report found that financial costs for prawn farmers would be significant, due to higher production costs, but ‘losses due to establishment of [WSD] would probably be small relative to the total [farmed and wild caught prawn] industry’. Alliance Resource Economics, Economic impact of establishment of exotic prawn disease, commissioned by the Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service, April 1999.
August 2000 Prawn farms in Queensland surveyed for WSD Following the WSD detection in 1999 the Consultative Committee for Emergency Animal Diseases recommended a survey of all operating prawn farms in Australia (all were in Queensland). No WSD was found from any prawn farm and the industry was considered free of the disease. Australian Animal Health Information System, ‘White spot syndrome in imported prawns, Animal Health Surveillance Quarterly, 5(3), 2000, p. 6; I J East and others, ‘Survey for the presence of White Spot Syndrome virus in Australian crustaceans’, Australian Veterinary Journal, 82(4), April 2004, pp. 236–240
25 August 2000 Draft Import Risk Analysis for prawns and prawn products released Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service, Animal quarantine policy memorandum 2000/41: Import risk analysis: prawns and prawn products: Draft import risk analysis paper, 25 August 2000.
15 November 2000 WSD prawns fed to crabs in Darwin Northern Territory officials are informed that approximately 3kg of imported Indonesian prawns have been fed to crabs and fish at the Darwin Aquaculture Centre (DAC) over the past two months. The prawns had been imported from Indonesia for human consumption only, but repackaged in Australia as ‘River Prawns, product of Australia’ for use as bait. The packaging did not state that the prawns were from Indonesia or for human consumption only. The facilities had a policy of only using Australian products for feeding to reduce the risk of disease. DAC staff alerted the NT Government when they discovered the issue. All animals fed imported prawns were destroyed within 24 hours and the premise disinfected. Subsequent testing by CSIRO confirmed that the imported prawns were positive for WSD, as well as some of the crabs at DAC. J Wakelin, ‘Bug puts prawns at risk’, Northern Territory News, Friday 26 January 2001; M Palmer, ‘Debates: Ministerial Statement: White Spot Syndrome Virus’, Legislative Assembly, Debates, 20 February 2001; Northern Territory Department of Primary Industry and Fisheries, Summary report on the discovery of RNA signals similar to White Spot Syndrome virus in imported green prawns, February 2001.
20 November 2000 WSD found in crabs and prawns in Darwin Harbour The NT Department of Primary Industries and Fisheries tested crabs and prawns captured near the water outfall pipe from the DAC. Five out of 12 crabs and two out of four prawns tested positive for WSD. Northern Territory Department of Primary Industry and Fisheries, Summary report on the discovery of RNA signals similar to White Spot Syndrome virus in imported green prawns, February 2001.
20 November 2000 Additional facility in NT found to use imported prawns A survey by the NT Department of Primary Industries and Fisheries surveyed aquaculture facilities in the territory and found that the Agriculture School of the Northern Territory at the Northern Territory University was using the same imported prawns as the DAC. The School had a closed system and all waste water was kept on site; there was no risk of WSD spreading to the environment. All crabs and prawns fed imported prawns were destroyed and the facility disinfected. Subsequent testing by CSIRO confirmed that captive prawns at the School were positive for WSD. Northern Territory Department of Primary Industry and Fisheries, Summary report on the discovery of RNA signals similar to White Spot Syndrome virus in imported green prawns, February 2001.
November-December 2000 NT Government alerts other governments and industries The NT Government alerts the Consultative Committee on Emergency Animal Disease (CCEAD) that prawns imported for human consumption are being repackaged and sold as bait in Australia. The CCEAD advises states and territories of the situation. Representatives of the seafood industry and recreational fishing industry are also alerted, as are prawn farmers in NT. Northern Territory Department of Primary Industry and Fisheries, Summary report on the discovery of RNA signals similar to White Spot Syndrome virus in imported green prawns, February 2001.
6 December 2000 National survey on presence of WSD in Australia recommended The CCEAD recommends a national survey be carried out in Australia to determine if WSD is present in any wild or farmed prawns and crabs. M Palmer, ‘Debates: Ministerial Statement: White Spot Syndrome Virus’, Legislative Assembly, Debates, 20 February 2001.
14 December 2000 Conditions for importing uncooked prawns for human consumption introduced AQIS (Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service) introduces conditions following recommendations from the Draft Import Risk Analysis report for prawns and prawn products, released in August 2000. Imported prawns have to be certified as free of visible infection of disease, or from a region officially free of WSD and yellowhead disease. Importing prawns not for human consumption is still prohibited. Biosecurity Australia, Animal biosecurity policy memorandum 2000/057: Interim conditions on importation of green (uncooked) prawns, 14 December 2000.
18-20 December 2000 WSD no longer found in Darwin Harbour Additional testing by NT Department of Primary Industries and Fisheries find crabs near DAC outfall pipe free of WSD. Crabs tested from around Darwin Harbour also free of WSD. Department considers the WSD infection in the Harbour ‘non-sustaining’. The Department starts a monitoring and surveillance programme. Northern Territory Department of Primary Industry and Fisheries, Summary report on the discovery of RNA signals similar to White Spot Syndrome virus in imported green prawns, February 2001.
25 January 2001 NT Government calls for six month ban on prawn imports Following the incident in Darwin Harbour NT Minister for Primary Industry and Fisheries Mick Palmer calls for a six month ban on all prawn imports. N Johnson, ‘Prawns threatened by virus’, PM, ABC, 25 January 2001.
25 January 2001 AQIS announces prawn imports ‘extremely low risk’ AQIS spokesperson Carson Creagh states that importing uncooked prawns is ‘extremely low risk’ and that in test results there has been no evidence of WSD. N Johnson, ‘Prawns threatened by virus’, PM, ABC, 25 January 2001.
February 2001 Darwin Harbour declared free of White Spot Disease Repeated testing by NT Department of Primary Industry and Fisheries of captive and wild prawns and crabs are all negative for WSD. Darwin Harbour is declared free of White Spot Disease. Northern Territory Department of Primary Industry and Fisheries, Summary report on the discovery of RNA signals similar to White Spot Syndrome virus in imported green prawns, February 2001.
February 2001 Repackaged shipment traced The NT and Queensland Governments trace the repackaged Indonesian prawns carrying WSD to an importer in Perth. Two shipments, totalling 10 tonnes, were imported into Australia in September and November 1999. The final destination and end use of the imported prawns outside the Northern Territory is unknown. Northern Territory Department of Primary Industry and Fisheries, Summary report on the discovery of RNA signals similar to White Spot Syndrome virus in imported green prawns, February 2001.
7 February 2001 Conditions for importing uncooked prawns for human consumption changed Following the incident in Darwin, AQIS now requires all imported uncooked prawns to be held in quarantine until they are tested negative for WSD. Shipments that test positive are re-exported or destroyed. Biosecurity Australia, Animal biosecurity policy memorandum 2001/06: Uncooked (green prawns): tighter import conditions, Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, 7 February 2001.
20 February 2001 National survey for WSD underway David Banks, General Manager of Animal Biosecurity, states that Biosecurity Australia is conducting a survey across Australia and offshore waters to determine if WSD is present. Senate Rural and Regional Affairs and Transport Legislation Committee, Official committee Hansard, 20 February 2001, p. 226.
28 March 2001 Unconfirmed report of WSD in Victoria Senator Woodley asks Environment Minister Senator Hill if he has heard about reports of WSD in Gippsland Lakes, Victoria. The Senator responded that he was ‘unaware of this claimed outbreak.’ There is no further reference to WSD in Victoria. Senator Hill states that ‘there is no scientific evidence to suggest that the use of green prawns as bait has led to the introduction of disease’. R Hill, ‘Answer to Questions without notice: Prawns: White Spot Virus’, [Questioner: J Woodley], Senate, Debates, 28 March 2001.
28 March 2001 NSW Government lists WSD as a declared disease It becomes an offence under NSW law to sell prawns suspected of being infected with WSD or place infected prawns in state waterways. E Obeid, ‘Questions without notice: White Spot Syndrome Virus,’ [Questioner: A Kelly], NSW Legislative Council, Debates, 28 March 2001.
April 2001 Australian Prawn Farmers Association (APFA) supports ban on prawn imports The APFA supports the ban, following the WSD incident in Darwin. APFA claims that New South Wales, Queensland and the Northern Territory also support the ban. M Breen, ‘APFA supports import moratorium in Australia’, The Global Aquaculture Advocate, April 2001.
April 2001 Whole raw prawns from New Caledonia permitted for import AQIS determines that raw prawns from New Caledonia pose the same quarantine risk as raw prawns from Australia. Unpeeled raw prawns from New Caledonia can be imported. Unpeeled raw prawns from no other country are permitted. Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service, ‘Public quarantine alert pqa0116: Interim measures for importation of green (uncooked) prawns’, ICON, 21 April 2001.
12 April 2001 NSW Minister says WSD in Sydney Harbour NSW Minister for Fisheries, Eddie Obeid, announces that a prawn sampled from Sydney Harbour has tested positive for WSD. He stated that ‘I have an analysis from the CSIRO here in front of me, stating that a certain sample from Port Jackson was positive, and it was a repeat test. And that was signed by Dr Peter Walker from CSIRO Livestock Industries, and that's good enough for me.’ K Meade and C Pryor, ‘Virus threat to bananas and prawns’, The Australian, 25 April 2001; ABC Rural News, ‘White spot stoush threatens prawning’, Australian Broadcasting Corporation, 21 May 2001.
22 April 2001 Seven tonnes of imported prawns held by AQIS More than seven tonnes of prawns imported from Indonesia are held at the Brisbane and Cairns ports due to testing positive for WSD. P Morely, ‘Prawn virus scare’, The Sunday Mail, 22 April 2001.
18 May 2001 Federal Minister refute Obeid’s WSD claim Federal Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, Warren Truss, states that follow up tests by CSIRO have found that the tests result Minister Obeid announced ‘have come up “all clear”’. Minister Truss states that the CSIRO sample was a false positive of a preliminary test and that ‘there is no evidence of [WSD] in Sydney Harbour’. W Truss (Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry), CSIRO tests find no white spot virus in Sydney Harbour prawns – Minister Obeid should apologise for false claims, media release, 18 May 2001; W Truss (Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry), NSW Minister misleads public about seafood white spot disease, media release, 22 May 2001.
28 May 2001 More detailed uncooked prawn import conditions announced These conditions clarify the import conditions introduced previously in late 2001 and early 2001. The conditions include requirements on import permits, certification, size limitations, inspections, testing, declarations and record keeping. Biosecurity Australia, Animal biosecurity policy memorandum 2001/11: Importation of uncooked prawns and prawn products: Advice on quarantine measures, 28 May 2001.
29 May 2001 Preliminary national WSD survey results Biosecurity Australia confirms that the presence of WSD in both Sydney Harbour and Gippsland Lakes have not been confirmed by further testing. Senate Rural and Regional Affairs and Transport Legislation Committee, Answers to Questions on Notice, Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry Portfolio, Budget Estimates 2000–2001, Question 10.
2002 WSD spreads to the Middle East and Iran A Khatibi Tabar, ‘A review on White Spot Disease in penaeid shrimp farms with a brief study on its occurrence in shrimp aquaculture zones’, presentation for the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) workshop on national focal points for aquatic animals, 2010, Dubai.
2002 Post-mortem on governments’ response to Darwin incident is released This Council of Australian Governments (COAG) report is confidential and not publically available. COAG, Final report on the Post Mortem Exercises on the Emergency Management Response to Evidence of White Spot Virus in Australia, 2002 [not made public].
9 May 2002 National survey confirms Australia free of WSD The national survey, triggered by the Darwin incident, finds Australia free of WSD. The survey tested over 3,000 prawns and crabs from 64 different wild, farmed and research locations around Australia. The only confirmed detections of WSD came from imported uncooked prawns. Several samples tested positive in the first round of testing (via PCR) but were negative with more sensitive tests, showing that testing for WSD requires multiple tests to accurately determine its presence W Truss (Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry), Nationwide survey confirms Australia free of prawn disease, media release, 9 May 2002; I J East and others, ‘Survey for the presence of White Spot Syndrome virus in Australian crustaceans’, Australian Veterinary Journal, 82(4), April 2004, pp. 236–240
25 June 2002 AQIS introduces ‘highly processed’ prawn category This is for products that are peeled except for the tail, breaded/battered, have a large body mass and sold in packages under 3kg. Highly processed prawns do not require inspection or testing before being released from Quarantine. Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, Animal biosecurity policy memorandum 2002/33: Quarantine review: highly processed prawn products and Attachment A, 25 June 2002.
November 2003 Western Australian survey finds no evidence of WSD Over 1,760 prawns from 29 wild and research locations were sampled, with no prawns testing positive for WSD. Prawns in Western Australia were labelled free of WSD. J B Jones, Determination of the disease status of Western Australian commercial prawn stocks, Fisheries Research and Development Corporation Project No. 98/212, November 2003.
January-February 2004 WSD detected in imported prawns in Queensland A batch of prawns imported into Queensland from South East Asia was sampled for infectious WSD. All laboratory prawns injected with material from the imported prawns became ill with or died of WSD within five days. The study concludes that WSD is present in imported frozen prawns from South East Asia, and that the disease is capable of infecting Australian prawns. K A McColl, J Slater, G Jeyasekaran, A D Hyatt and M StJ Crane, ‘Detection of White Spot Syndrome virus and Yellowhead virus in prawns imported into Australia’, Australian Veterinary Journal, 82(1 and 2), January and February 2004, pp. 69–74.
June 2005 Australian aquatic veterinary emergency plan (aquavet plan) for WSD released Department of Agriculture, Australian aquatic veterinary emergency plan (aquavet plan): White Spot Disease, June 2005.
23 November 2006 Revised draft Import Risk Analysis for prawns and prawn products released Biosecurity Australia, Biosecurity Australia policy memorandum 2006/35: Revised draft import risk analysis report for prawns and prawn products, 23 November 2006.
28 November 2006 Imported prawns in Queensland test positive for WSD The Queensland Department of Primary Industries and Fisheries tested 11 samples of imported raw prawns purchased from supermarkets. All samples tested positive for WSD. These results were confirmed by further testing at the Australian Animal Health Laboratory. J Jarrat, ‘Matters of public interest: Prawn industry’, Queensland Parliament Record of Proceedings, 28 November 2006, p. 602.
20 June 2007 Recreational fishers using imported prawns as bait has increased Two studies commissioned by AQIS have found that the number of recreational fishers buying imported prawns for human consumption to use as bait has increased since 2002. Biosecurity Australia, Biosecurity Australia policy memorandum 2007/13: Import risk analysis of prawns and prawn products - Status report, 20 June 2007; Biosecurity Australia, Summary of key findings of the National Survey of Bait and Berley use by Recreational Fishers: Follow-up Survey Focusing on Prawns/Shrimp, 20 June 2007.
24 July 2007 Import conditions for prawns for human consumption changed In a development not directly related to WSD, Biosecurity Australia announces that raw prawns must now be tested for three other diseases (Infectious Hypodermal and Haematopoietic Necrosis Virus, IHHNV) as well as WSD, or be from a country that can demonstrate it is free from these diseases. Raw prawns with the last shell segment and tail can be imported from any country and must be tested for WSD and other diseases. ‘Highly processed’ products now include wet and dry marinated prawns, marinated prawns on skewers and prawn dumplings/spring roll/balls/etc. All products are visually inspected for signs of disease, including WSD. Biosecurity Australia, Biosecurity Australia policy memorandum 2007/16: Importation of prawns and prawn products - revised interim quarantine measures, 24 July 2007.
March 2008 IHHNV disease found in Queensland prawn farms Infectious Hypodermal and Hematopoietic Necrosis Virus (IHHNV, see above) is found in two prawn farms in Queensland. The disease also causes mass deaths in farmed prawns, although the virus is not related to WSD. The head of the Importers Association suggests that ‘the disease has been here for quite some time’ J Waters, ‘Prawn ban faces criticism’, PM, ABC Radio, 20 March 2008; Biosecurity Australia, Biosecurity Australia advice 2008/30: Importation of prawns and prawn products: amended interim quarantine measures, 12 September 2008.
18 September 2008 IHHNV removed from imported prawn tests AQIS removes the condition that imported prawns must be tested for IHHNV following the Aquatic Consultative Committee on Emergency Animal Diseases’ decision that the disease cannot be eradicated from Australia. Biosecurity Australia, Biosecurity Australia advice 2008/30: Importation of prawns and prawn products: amended interim quarantine measures, 12 September 2008.
October 2009 Final Import Risk Analysis (IRA) for prawns and prawn products released Biosecurity Australia, Biosecurity Australia advice 2009/25: Release of final import risk analysis report for prawns and prawn products, 7 October 2009.
April 2010 Import conditions for prawns changed Recommendations from the IRA are incorporated. These conditions only differ slightly from those introduced in 2007. Unpeeled raw prawns are permitted from New Caledonia only, which Australia recognises as free of WSD. Biosecurity Australia, Biosecurity Australia advice 2010/11: quarantine policy determination for prawns and prawn products, 22 April 2010.
3 September 2010 Consignment of infected prawns mistakenly released from Quarantine 20 tonnes of prawn products imported from Malaysia were mistakenly released from Quarantine despite testing positive for WSD. The products included farmed peeled raw prawns and wild caught peeled prawns and prawn cutlets. Four out of 13 samples tested positive. It is unclear which prawns carried WSD as all products were tested as one batch. K Dunn, An examination of the likelihood of imported raw peeled prawns that tested positive for White Spot Syndrome Virus (WSSV) and were mistakenly released into Australia by the Biosecurity Services Group (BSG) entering high risk pathways and of then causing WSSV to establish in Australia, Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, 30 November 2010.
30 November 2010 Mistaken release of WSD infected prawns considered low risk The Interim Inspector General of Biosecurity determines that the likelihood of the released 20 tonnes of prawns causing an infection in Australia is ‘extremely low’, and the likelihood of the released prawns causing WSD to become established in Australia is ‘negligible’. A total of 3.5 tonnes of the shipment was recalled and exported out of Australia. K Dunn, An examination of the likelihood of imported raw peeled prawns that tested positive for White Spot Syndrome Virus (WSSV) and were mistakenly released into Australia by the Biosecurity Services Group (BSG) entering high risk pathways and of then causing WSSV to establish in Australia, Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, 30 November 2010;
30 November 2010 Mistaken release due to ‘human error’, additional release identified The Interim Inspector General of Biosecurity reviewed the release of the 20 tonnes of prawns and determined that the incident was down to human error. As part of the review another shipment of 8.5 tonnes of prawns that was positive for WSD was found to have been released in July 2010. K Dunn, An examination of what caused a consignment of imported raw peeled prawns that tested positive for White Spot Syndrome Virus (WSSV) to be mistakenly released into Australia by the Biosecurity Services Group (BSG), Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, 30 November 2010.
2012 WSD spreads to east Africa WSD is detected in Mozambique in 2011 and then in Madagascar in 2012. The disease is now considered widespread in the western Indian Ocean. M Le Groumellec, ‘Expert opinion: White Spot Disease in Africa: second occurrence in the Mozambique Channel’, World Organisation for Animal Health Africa, May 2012
September 2013 Second version of Australian aquatic veterinary emergency plan (aquavet plan) for WSD released Department of Agriculture, Australian aquatic veterinary emergency plan (aquavet plan): White Spot Disease, September 2013.
24 November 2016 Prawns begin to die on a prawn farm in Logan River A prawn farmer notifies Biosecurity Queensland of a small die-off of prawns on his farm. He takes samples to be genetically tested. BK Diggles, Field observations and assessment of the response to an outbreak of White Spot Disease (WSD) in Black Tiger Prawns (Penaeus monodon) farmed on the Logan River in November 2016, report prepared for the Fisheries Research and Development Corporation, 21 February 2017.
25 November 2016 Biosecurity Queensland samples sick prawns According to the report commissioned by the Fisheries Research and Development Corporation, the same prawn farmer is advised by Biosecurity Queensland to ‘do whatever was required to get the best results’ from sick prawn pond. Farmer begins flushing the pond with fresh water from Logan River, discharging pond water back into the river. BK Diggles, Field observations and assessment of the response to an outbreak of White Spot Disease (WSD) in Black Tiger Prawns (Penaeus monodon) farmed on the Logan River in November 2016, report prepared for the Fisheries Research and Development Corporation, 21 February 2017.
28 November 2016 Prawn deaths continue and water sampled The prawn famer takes water from ponds with sick and dying prawns to test for toxic algae. Tests are negative for toxic algae. BK Diggles, Field observations and assessment of the response to an outbreak of White Spot Disease (WSD) in Black Tiger Prawns (Penaeus monodon) farmed on the Logan River in November 2016, report prepared for the Fisheries Research and Development Corporation, 21 February 2017.
29 November 2016 Drain harvesting begins, pond flushing stops Biosecurity Queensland advises farmers that they can drain the sick prawn ponds and harvest unaffected prawns. These undersized prawns could be sold as bait. Biosecurity Queensland also advises farmers to isolate sick prawn ponds and stop pond flushing. BK Diggles, Field observations and assessment of the response to an outbreak of White Spot Disease (WSD) in Black Tiger Prawns (Penaeus monodon) farmed on the Logan River in November 2016, report prepared for the Fisheries Research and Development Corporation, 21 February 2017.
30 November 2016 WSD detected at Logan River prawn farm Genetic testing of sampled prawns from the Logan River prawn farm is positive for the presence of White Spot Disease. Biosecurity Queensland advises farmer to destroy all prawn stock and decontaminate sampled pond as soon as possible. M Schipp, ‘Immediate notification’, Exceptional Epidemiological Events – Australia 2016, World Animal Health Information Database (WAHIS), 1 December 2016; BK Diggles, Field observations and assessment of the response to an outbreak of White Spot Disease (WSD) in Black Tiger Prawns (Penaeus monodon) farmed on the Logan River in November 2016, report prepared for the Fisheries Research and Development Corporation, 21 February 2017.
1 December 2016 WSD confirmed by Australian Animal Health Laboratory The national authority on animal diseases also tests the sampled prawns from Logan River and confirms the presence of WSD. Biosecurity Queensland applies movement controls to prawns, equipment and other high risk material from the farm and halts discharge of pond water into Logan River. M Schipp, ‘Immediate notification’, Exceptional Epidemiological Events – Australia 2016, World Animal Health Information Database (WAHIS), 1 December 2016; Biosecurity Queensland, ‘White Spot Disease detected in southern Queensland’, Biosecurity Queensland website, 2 December 2016.
5 December 2016 Second prawn farm in Logan River affected Signs of WSD are seen on a second prawn farm, close to the location of the first detection. Prawns on both this and the first affected farm are being destroyed and the farms decontaminated. Biosecurity Queensland applies movement controls to prawns, equipment and other high risk material from the farm and halts discharge of pond water into Logan River. M Schipp, ‘Follow-up Report No. 1’, Exceptional Epidemiological Events – Australia 2016, World Animal Health Information Database (WAHIS), 8 December 2016; Biosecurity Queensland, ‘White spot disease - Industry update – Current situation’, Biosecurity Queensland website, 8 December 2016.
8 December 2016 WSD detected in prawns sampled from Logan River Wild prawns sampled from Logan River near the affected prawn farms test positive for WSD at the Australian Animal Health Laboratory. Biosecurity Queensland applies movement controls to the entire Logan River area, including movement of prawns, crabs and marine worms. M Schipp, ‘Follow-up Report No. 1’, Exceptional Epidemiological Events – Australia 2016, World Animal Health Information Database (WAHIS), 8 December 2016; Biosecurity Queensland, ‘White spot disease - Industry update – Restrictions imposed in Logan River to contain prawn disease’, Biosecurity Queensland website, 9 December 2016.
8 December 2016 Third prawn farm in Logan River affected WSD affected prawns are observed on a third prawn farm in Logan River. All prawns on this farm are destroyed and decontamination of prawn ponds begins. M Schipp, ‘Follow-up Report No. 2’, Exceptional Epidemiological Events – Australia 2016, World Animal Health Information Database (WAHIS), 15 December 2016.
12 December 2016 Fourth prawn farm in Logan River affected WSD affected prawns are observed on a fourth prawn farm in Logan River. All prawns on this farm are destroyed and decontamination of prawn ponds begins. M Schipp, ‘Follow-up Report No. 2’, Exceptional Epidemiological Events – Australia 2016, World Animal Health Information Database (WAHIS), 15 December 2016.
13 December 2016 Disease control measures put in place by Biosecurity Queensland Broader movement controls are introduced, restricting the movement of prawns, crabs and marine worms around the riverbanks, boat ramps, car parks and inlets of Logan River as well as the river itself. Use of beam trawlers, crab catching pots, cast nets and other items are prohibited from use in the area. Biosecurity Queensland, ‘White spot disease - Industry update – Current disease control activities’, Biosecurity Queensland website, 13 December 2016.
29 December 2016 Fifth prawn farm in Logan River affected Genetic testing of prawns at a fifth farm in Logan River is positive for WSD. All prawns in the affected pond are destroyed and the pond is decontaminated. M Schipp, ‘Follow-up Report No. 4’, Exceptional Epidemiological Events – Australia 2016, World Animal Health Information Database (WAHIS), 29 December 2016.

Thanks to the Australian Parliamentary Library, Legislative Council of the Northern Territory Table Office and the Northern Territory Department of Primary Industry and Fisheries Berrimah Farm Library for their assistance in locating sources.

 

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