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Publication Title

Diseases of Aquatic Organisms








In 2000, a pathogenic virus was discovered in juvenile Caribbean spiny lobsters Panulirus argus from the Florida Keys, USA. Panulirus argus virus 1 (PaV1) is the first naturally occurring pathogenic virus reported from lobsters, and it profoundly affects their ecology and physiology. PaV1 is widespread in the Caribbean with infections reported in Florida (USA), St. Croix, St. Kitts, Yucatan (Mexico), Belize, and Cuba. It is most prevalent and nearly always lethal in the smallest juvenile lobsters, but this declines with increasing lobster size; adults harbor the virus, but do not present the characteristic signs of the disease. No other PaV1 hosts are known. The prevalence of PaV1 in juvenile lobsters from the Florida Keys has been stable since 1999, but has risen to nearly 11% in the eastern Yucatan since 2001. Heavily infected lobsters become sedentary, cease feeding, and die of metabolic exhaustion. Experimental routes of viral transmission include ingestion, contact, and for newly settled juveniles, free virus particles in seawater. Prior to infectiousness, healthy lobsters tend to avoid diseased lobsters and so infected juvenile lobsters mostly dwell alone, which appears to reduce disease transmission. However, avoidance of diseased individuals may result in increased shelter competition between healthy and diseased lobsters, and greater predation on infected lobsters. Little is known about PaV1 outside of Mexico and the USA, but it poses a potential threat to P. argus fisheries throughout the Caribbean.

Original Publication Citation

Behringer, D.C., Butler, M.J., Shields, J.D., & Moss, J. (2011). Review of Panulirus argus virus 1-- A decade after its discovery. Diseases of Aquatic Organisms, 94(2), 153-160. doi: 10.3354/dao02326