SSA raises EMS concerns


SeafoodSource staff

Published on
April 25, 2013

U.S. shrimp association the Southern Shrimp Alliance (SSA) on Wednesday sent letters to the U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, Acting Commerce Secretary Rebecca Blank and U.S. Food and Drug Administration commissioner Margaret Hamburg calling for the government to investigate the potential impacts from early mortality syndrome (EMS).

Little is known about the disease, which causes 100 percent mortality in affected shrimp ponds, said SSA.

“Of even greater concern, there appears to be little reliable information about the potential adverse implications if this disease finds its way to the U.S. through imports of infected shrimp,” said SSA.

“What is known about the potential adverse implications for human health from the consumption of raw or cooked shrimp infected with the microbe causing EMS?” wrote John Williams, SSA executive director in the letter. “Antibiotic-resistant superbugs are known to emerge from the persistent and widespread use of veterinary drugs such as has occurred on shrimp farms in these nations. If such implications exist or are as yet unknown, what steps has the U.S. government taken to protect human health.

The letter also raises similar questions about the potential for the disease to spread into the wild; damaging shrimp resources and the ecosystem on which they depend.  The transmission of diseases from aquaculture operations into the wild has been documented with other species. Finally, the letter also raises concern for the spread of the disease to shrimp farms in the U.S.

The letter further notes that both Ecuador and Mexico have banned shrimp imports from affected countries for the time being.

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