Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide


white spot disease



white spot disease


  • Last modified
  • 22 June 2017
  • Datasheet Type(s)
  • Animal Disease
  • Preferred Scientific Name
  • white spot disease
  • Overview
  • White spot syndrome virus (WSSV), the aetiological agent of white spot disease (WSD), is one of the most devastating viral pathogens of shrimp culture worldwide (

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Penaeus monodon (giant tiger prawn); explosive emergence of WSSV in Asia.
TitleWSSV in Asia
CaptionPenaeus monodon (giant tiger prawn); explosive emergence of WSSV in Asia.
Copyright©Peter Walker
Penaeus monodon (giant tiger prawn); explosive emergence of WSSV in Asia.
WSSV in AsiaPenaeus monodon (giant tiger prawn); explosive emergence of WSSV in Asia.©Peter Walker
Penaeus monodon (giant tiger prawn); explosive emergence of WSSV in Asia.
TitleWSSV in Asia
CaptionPenaeus monodon (giant tiger prawn); explosive emergence of WSSV in Asia.
Copyright©Peter Walker
Penaeus monodon (giant tiger prawn); explosive emergence of WSSV in Asia.
WSSV in AsiaPenaeus monodon (giant tiger prawn); explosive emergence of WSSV in Asia.©Peter Walker


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Preferred Scientific Name

  • white spot disease

International Common Names

  • English: China virus disease; red disease (white spot disease); rod-shaped nuclear virus of Penaeus japonicus (RV-PJ) infection; SEMBV infection; shrimp explosive epidermal disease; white spot baculovirus infection; white spot disease of penaeid shrimp; white spot syndrome; white spot syndrome baculovirus complex of penaeid shrimp; whitespot disease

English acronym

  • SEED
  • systemic ectodermal and mesodermal baculovirus infection
  • WSD


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White spot syndrome virus (WSSV), the aetiological agent of white spot disease (WSD), is one of the most devastating viral pathogens of shrimp culture worldwide (Escobedo-Bonilla et al., 2008; Lightner 2011). The virus was first reported in Taiwan in 1992 (Chou et al. 1995) and rapidly spread around the world (Zwart et al. 2010). WSSV is one of the most damaging shrimp pathogens to date, inflicting loss of production of approximately 300,000 tons of shrimp or about 1 billion US$ annually (Stentiford et al. 2012).

Gross clinical signs of WSD are the appearance of white spots at the cephalothorax region of the shrimp cuticle due to abnormal deposition of calcium salts, rapid reduction in food consumption, lethargy, and reddening of appendages. In the field, WSSV-infected shrimp gather near the pond edge and display clinical signs 1 or 2 days before the first mortalities occur. Cumulative mortality may reach 100% within 10 days after the onset of disease (Chou et al., 1995; Karunasagar et al. 1997).

WSSV is highly pathogenic and very infectious to decapods; however, variation in pathogenicity among isolates from different geographical regions (Laramore & Scarpa 2009; Zwart et al. 2010) and cross-species passaging (Gusheinzed Waikhom et al. 2006) have been reported. The virus initially replicates in the nucleus of epithelium cells lining the stomach wall (Durand et al. 1997), gills (Rahman et al. 2008) and later spreads via the haemolymph causing WSSV pathology in tissues that are of ectodermal and mesodermal origin (Chang et al. 1996). Transmission of WSSV from one shrimp species to another occurs by feeding on infected animals, direct contact with WSSV-contaminated water or cohabitation with infected animals (Rajan et al. 2000). Although mortality may reach 100%, under favourable culture conditions, shrimp can harbour WSSV for a long period without showing clinical signs (Tsai et al. 1999).

White spot disease is on the list of diseases notifiable to the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE). The distribution section contains data from OIE's WAHID database on disease occurrence. For further information on this disease from OIE, see the website:

Hosts/Species Affected

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WSSV has an extremely wide host range. The virus can infect a wide range of aquatic crustaceans especially decapod, including marine, brackish and freshwater prawns, crabs, crayfish and lobsters (reviewed by Escobedo-Bonilla et al., 2008).


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WSSV is the most devastating viral pathogen of shrimp culture worldwide (Alvarez-Ruiz et al., 2015).

Distribution Table

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The distribution in this summary table is based on all the information available. When several references are cited, they may give conflicting information on the status. Further details may be available for individual references in the Distribution Table Details section which can be selected by going to Generate Report.

Continent/Country/RegionDistributionLast ReportedOriginFirst ReportedInvasiveReferenceNotes


AfghanistanNo information availableOIE, 2009
ArmeniaDisease never reportedOIE, 2009
AzerbaijanDisease never reportedOIE, 2009
BahrainDisease never reportedOIE, 2009
BangladeshPresentOIE, 2009
BhutanNo information availableOIE, 2009
Brunei DarussalamDisease not reportedOIE Handistatus, 2005
CambodiaNo information availableOIE, 2009
ChinaRestricted distributionOIE, 2009
-Hong KongPresentOIE, 2009
Georgia (Republic of)Disease never reportedOIE Handistatus, 2005
IndiaNo information availableOIE, 2009
IndonesiaPresentOIE, 2009
IranRestricted distributionOIE, 2009
IraqNo information availableOIE, 2009
IsraelDisease never reportedOIE, 2009
JapanPresentOIE, 2009
JordanNo information availableOIE, 2009
KazakhstanNo information availableOIE, 2009
Korea, DPRDisease not reportedOIE Handistatus, 2005
Korea, Republic ofPresentOIE, 2009
KuwaitDisease not reportedOIE, 2009
KyrgyzstanNo information availableOIE, 2009
LaosNo information availableOIE, 2009
LebanonNo information availableOIE, 2009
MalaysiaPresentOIE, 2009
-Peninsular MalaysiaNo information availableOIE Handistatus, 2005
-SabahNo information availableOIE Handistatus, 2005
-SarawakDisease not reportedOIE Handistatus, 2005
MongoliaNo information availableOIE, 2009
MyanmarNo information availableOIE, 2009
NepalNo information availableOIE, 2009
OmanNo information availableOIE, 2009
PakistanNo information availableOIE, 2009
PhilippinesNo information availableOIE, 2009
QatarNo information availableOIE, 2009
Saudi ArabiaNo information availableOIE, 2009
SingaporeDisease not reportedOIE, 2009
Sri LankaNo information availableOIE, 2009
SyriaNo information availableOIE, 2009
Taiwan1999OIE Handistatus, 2005
TajikistanNo information availableOIE, 2009
ThailandNo information availableOIE, 2009
TurkeyNo information availableOIE, 2009
TurkmenistanNo information availableOIE Handistatus, 2005
United Arab EmiratesNo information availableOIE, 2009
UzbekistanDisease never reportedOIE Handistatus, 2005
VietnamNo information availableOIE, 2009
YemenNo information availableOIE, 2009


AlgeriaNo information availableOIE, 2009
AngolaNo information availableOIE, 2009
BeninNo information availableOIE, 2009
BotswanaNo information availableOIE, 2009
Burkina FasoNo information availableOIE, 2009
BurundiDisease never reportedOIE Handistatus, 2005
CameroonNo information availableOIE Handistatus, 2005
Cape VerdeDisease not reportedOIE Handistatus, 2005
Central African RepublicDisease not reportedOIE Handistatus, 2005
ChadNo information availableOIE, 2009
CongoNo information availableOIE, 2009
Congo Democratic RepublicDisease not reportedOIE Handistatus, 2005
Côte d'IvoireNo information availableOIE Handistatus, 2005
DjiboutiNo information availableOIE, 2009
EgyptNo information availableOIE, 2009
EritreaNo information availableOIE, 2009
EthiopiaNo information availableOIE, 2009
GambiaNo information availableOIE, 2009
GhanaNo information availableOIE, 2009
GuineaNo information availableOIE, 2009
Guinea-BissauNo information availableOIE, 2009
KenyaNo information availableOIE, 2009
LesothoDisease never reportedOIE, 2009
LibyaNo information availableOIE Handistatus, 2005
MadagascarNo information availableOIE, 2009
MalawiNo information availableOIE, 2009
MaliNo information availableOIE, 2009
MauritiusNo information availableOIE, 2009
MoroccoNo information availableOIE, 2009
MozambiqueNo information availableOIE, 2009
NamibiaNo information availableOIE, 2009
NigeriaNo information availableOIE, 2009
RéunionNo information availableOIE Handistatus, 2005
RwandaNo information availableOIE Handistatus, 2005
Sao Tome and PrincipeNo information availableOIE Handistatus, 2005
SenegalNo information availableOIE, 2009
SeychellesDisease not reportedOIE Handistatus, 2005
SomaliaNo information availableOIE Handistatus, 2005
South AfricaNo information availableOIE, 2009
SudanDisease never reportedOIE, 2009
SwazilandNo information availableOIE, 2009
TanzaniaNo information availableOIE, 2009
TogoNo information availableOIE, 2009
TunisiaDisease not reportedOIE, 2009
UgandaNo information availableOIE, 2009
ZambiaNo information availableOIE, 2009
ZimbabweNo information availableOIE, 2009

North America

BermudaDisease not reportedOIE Handistatus, 2005
CanadaDisease never reportedOIE, 2009
GreenlandDisease never reportedOIE, 2009
MexicoRestricted distributionOIE, 2009
USARestricted distributionOIE, 2009
-GeorgiaDisease never reportedOIE, 2009

Central America and Caribbean

BarbadosDisease never reportedOIE Handistatus, 2005
BelizeDisease never reportedOIE, 2009
British Virgin IslandsDisease not reportedOIE Handistatus, 2005
Cayman IslandsDisease not reportedOIE Handistatus, 2005
Costa RicaPresentOIE, 2009
CubaDisease never reportedOIE, 2009
CuraçaoNo information availableOIE Handistatus, 2005
DominicaDisease not reportedOIE Handistatus, 2005
Dominican RepublicDisease never reportedOIE Handistatus, 2005
El SalvadorNo information availableOIE, 2009
GuadeloupeNo information availableOIE, 2009
GuatemalaDisease never reportedOIE, 2009
HaitiNo information availableOIE, 2009
HondurasNo information availableOIE, 2009
JamaicaDisease never reportedOIE, 2009
MartiniqueNo information availableOIE, 2009
NicaraguaNo information availableOIE, 2009
PanamaDisease not reportedOIE, 2009
Saint Kitts and NevisDisease never reportedOIE Handistatus, 2005
Saint Vincent and the GrenadinesDisease not reportedOIE Handistatus, 2005
Trinidad and TobagoDisease never reportedOIE Handistatus, 2005

South America

ArgentinaDisease not reportedOIE, 2009
BoliviaNo information availableOIE, 2009
BrazilDisease not reportedOIE, 2009
ChileDisease never reportedOIE, 2009
ColombiaDisease not reportedOIE, 2009
EcuadorNo information availableOIE, 2009
Falkland IslandsDisease never reportedOIE Handistatus, 2005
French GuianaDisease not reportedOIE, 2009
GuyanaDisease not reportedOIE Handistatus, 2005
ParaguayDisease never reportedOIE Handistatus, 2005
PeruNo information availableOIE, 2009
UruguayDisease never reportedOIE, 2009
VenezuelaNo information availableOIE, 2009


AlbaniaNo information availableOIE, 2009
AndorraDisease never reportedOIE Handistatus, 2005
AustriaNo information availableOIE, 2009
BelarusDisease never reportedOIE, 2009
BelgiumNo information availableOIE, 2009
Bosnia-HercegovinaDisease not reportedOIE Handistatus, 2005
BulgariaNo information availableOIE, 2009
CroatiaDisease never reportedOIE, 2009
CyprusDisease never reportedOIE, 2009
Czech RepublicDisease never reportedOIE, 2009
DenmarkDisease not reportedOIE, 2009
EstoniaNo information availableOIE, 2009
FinlandDisease never reportedOIE, 2009
FranceNo information availableOIE, 2009
GermanyDisease never reportedOIE, 2009
GreeceNo information availableOIE, 2009
HungaryDisease never reportedOIE, 2009
IcelandDisease never reportedOIE, 2009
IrelandDisease not reportedOIE, 2009
Isle of Man (UK)No information availableOIE Handistatus, 2005
ItalyDisease not reportedOIE, 2009
JerseyDisease never reportedOIE Handistatus, 2005
LatviaDisease not reportedOIE, 2009
LiechtensteinNo information availableOIE, 2009
LithuaniaDisease not reportedOIE, 2009
LuxembourgNo information availableOIE, 2009
MacedoniaNo information availableOIE, 2009
MaltaNo information availableOIE, 2009
MoldovaNo information availableOIE Handistatus, 2005
MontenegroNo information availableOIE, 2009
NetherlandsDisease never reportedOIE, 2009
NorwayDisease never reportedOIE, 2009
PolandNo information availableOIE, 2009
PortugalDisease not reportedOIE, 2009
RomaniaNo information availableOIE, 2009
Russian FederationNo information availableOIE, 2009
SerbiaNo information availableOIE, 2009
SlovakiaDisease not reportedOIE, 2009
SloveniaDisease never reportedOIE, 2009
SpainNo information availableOIE, 2009
SwedenDisease never reportedOIE, 2009
SwitzerlandDisease never reportedOIE, 2009
UKDisease never reportedOIE, 2009
-Northern IrelandNo information availableOIE Handistatus, 2005
UkraineDisease never reportedOIE, 2009
Yugoslavia (former)No information availableOIE Handistatus, 2005
Yugoslavia (Serbia and Montenegro)No information availableOIE Handistatus, 2005


AustraliaDisease never reportedOIE, 2009
French PolynesiaDisease never reportedOIE, 2009
New CaledoniaDisease never reportedOIE, 2009
New ZealandDisease never reportedOIE, 2009
SamoaNo information availableOIE Handistatus, 2005
VanuatuNo information availableOIE Handistatus, 2005
Wallis and Futuna IslandsNo information availableOIE Handistatus, 2005


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Alvarez-Ruiz P; Luna-González A; Escamilla-Montes R; Mejía-Ruiz CH; Magallón-Barajas FJ; Llera-Herrera R; Galván-Alvarez DA, 2015. Long-lasting effect against white spot syndrome virus in shrimp broodstock, Litopenaeus vannamei, by LvRab7 silencing. Journal of the World Aquaculture Society, 46(6):571-582.

Chang PohShing; Lo ChuFang; Wang YuChi; Kou GuangHsiung, 1996. Identification of white spot syndrome associated baculovirus (WSBV) target organs in the shrimp Penaeus monodon by in situ hybridization. Diseases of Aquatic Organisms, 27(2):131-139.

Chou HsinYiu; Huang ChangYi; Wang ChungHsiung; Chiang HsienChoung; Lo ChuFang, 1995. Pathogenicity of a baculovirus infection causing white spot syndrome in cultured penaeid shrimp in Taiwan. Diseases of Aquatic Organisms, 23(3):165-173.

Durand S; Lightner DV; Redman RM; Bonami JR, 1997. Ultrastructure and morphogenesis of White Spot Syndrome Baculovirus (WSSV). Diseases of Aquatic Organisms, 29(3):205-211.

Escobedo-Bonilla CM; Alday-Sanz V; Wille M; Sorgeloos P; Pensaert MB; Nauwynck HJ, 2008. A review on the morphology, molecular characterization, morphogenesis and pathogenesis of white spot syndrome virus. Journal of Fish Diseases, 31(1):1-18.

Gusheinzed Waikhom; John KR; George MR; Jeyaseelan MJP, 2006. Differential host passaging alters pathogenicity and induces genomic variation in white spot syndrome virus. Aquaculture, 261(1):54-63.

Karunasagar I; Otta SK; Karunasagar I, 1997. Histopathological and bacteriological study of white spot syndrome of Penaeus monodon along the west coast of India. Aquaculture, 153(1/2):9-13.

Laramore SE; Scarpa J; Laramore CR; Lin J, 2009. Virulence variation of white spot syndrome virus in Pacific white shrimp Litopenaeus vannamei. Journal of Aquatic Animal Health, 21(2):82-90.

Lightner DV, 2011. Virus diseases of farmed shrimp in the Western Hemisphere (the Americas): a review. Journal of Invertebrate Pathology, 106(1):110-130.

OIE Handistatus, 2005. World Animal Health Publication and Handistatus II (data set for 2004). Paris, France: Office International des Epizooties.

OIE, 2009. World Animal Health Information Database - Version: 1.4. World Animal Health Information Database. Paris, France: World Organisation for Animal Health.

Rahman MM; Corteel M; Escobedo-Bonilla CM; Wille M; Alday-Sanz V; Pensaert MB; Sorgeloos P; Nauwynck HJ, 2007. Virulence of white spot syndrome virus (WSSV) isolates may be correlated with the degree of replication in gills of Penaeus vannamei juveniles. Diseases of Aquatic Organisms, 79(3):191-198.

Rajan PR; Ramasamy P; Purushothaman V; Brennan GP, 2000. White spot baculovirus syndrome in the Indian shrimp Penaeus monodon and P. indicus. Aquaculture, 184(1/2):31-44.

Stentiford GD; Neil DM; Peeler EJ; Shields JD; Small HJ; Flegel TW; Vlak JM; Jones B; Morado F; Moss S; Lotz J; Bartholomay L; Behringer DC; Hauton C; Lightner DV, 2012. Disease will limit future food supply from the global crustacean fishery and aquaculture sectors. Journal of Invertebrate Pathology, 110(2):141-157.

Tsai MengFeng; Kou GuangHsiung; Liu HweiChung; Liu KuanFu; Chang ChenFang; Peng ShaoEn; Hsu HuiChen; Wang ChungHsiung; Lo ChuFang, 1999. Long-term presence of white spot syndrome virus (WSSV) in a cultivated shrimp population without disease outbreaks. Diseases of Aquatic Organisms, 38(2):107-114.

Zwart MP; Bui Thi Minh Dieu; Hemerik L; Vlak JM, 2010. Evolutionary trajectory of white spot syndrome virus (WSSV) genome shrinkage during spread in Asia. PLoS ONE, No.October:e13400.

Distribution Maps

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