Determination of the infectious nature of the agent of acute hepatopancreatic necrosis syndrome affecting penaeid shrimp.
A new emerging disease in shrimp, first reported in 2009, was initially named early mortality syndrome (EMS). In 2011, a more descriptive name for the acute phase of the disease was proposed as acute hepatopancreatic necrosis syndrome (AHPNS). Affecting both Pacific white shrimp Penaeus vannamei and black tiger shrimp P. monodon, the disease has caused significant losses in Southeast Asian shrimp farms. AHPNS was first classified as idiopathic because no specific causative agent had been identified. However, in early 2013, the Aquaculture Pathology Laboratory at the University of Arizona was able to isolate the causative agent of AHPNS in pure culture. Immersion challenge tests were employed for infectivity studies, which induced 100% mortality with typical AHPNS pathology to experimental shrimp exposed to the pathogenic agent. Subsequent histological analyses showed that AHPNS lesions were experimentally induced in the laboratory and were identical to those found in AHPNS-infected shrimp samples collected from the endemic areas. Bacterial isolation from the experimentally infected shrimp enabled recovery of the same bacterial colony type found in field samples. In 3 separate immersion tests, using the recovered isolate from the AHPNS-positive shrimp, the same AHPNS pathology was reproduced in experimental shrimp with consistent results. Hence, AHPNS has a bacterial etiology and Koch's Postulates have been satisfied in laboratory challenge studies with the isolate, which has been identified as a member of the Vibrio harveyi clade, most closely related to V. parahemolyticus.