• European crustaceans;
  • infection;
  • mortalities;
  • white spot syndrome virus

Eight European marine and freshwater crustaceans were experimentally infected with diluted shrimp haemolymph infected with white spot syndrome virus (WSSV). Clinical signs of infection and mortalities of the animals were routinely recorded. Diagnosis was by direct transmission electron microscopy (TEM), DNA hybridization (dot-blot and in situ hybridization) using WSSV probes and by PCR using WSSV specific primers. High mortality rates were noted between 7 to 21 days post-infection for Liocarcinus depurator, Liocarcinus puber, Cancer pagurus, Astacus leptodactylus, Orconectes limosus, Palaemon adspersus and Scyllarus arctus. Mortality reached 100%, 1 week post-infection in P. adspersus. When infection was successful, direct TEM observation of haemolymph revealed characteristic viral particles of WSSV, some observed as complete virions (enveloped), others as nucleocapsids associated with envelope debris. WSSV probes showed strong positive reactions in dot-blots and by in situ hybridization in sections and specific virus DNA fragments were amplified successfully with WSSV primers. White spot syndrome virus was pathogenic for the majority of the crustaceans tested. This underlines the epizootic potential of this virus in European crustaceans.