Taura Syndrome - Fact Sheet

What is Taura syndrome?

Taura syndrome is an infectious disease of crustaceans. It is caused by the Taura syndrome virus, which belongs to the family Dicistroviridae.

What species of crustaceans can be infected by Taura syndrome?

Each species of crustaceans may have several common names, but only one common name is listed.
Species susceptible to Taura syndrome that do not exist in the natural environment in Canada include:

  • Exopalaemon styliferus (roshma prawn)
  • Farfantepenaeus aztecus (brown shrimp)
  • Farfantepenaeus duorarum (spotted pink shrimp)
  • Fenneropenaeus chinensis (fleshy prawn)
  • Litopenaeus schmitti (southern white shrimp)
  • Litopenaeus setiferus (northern white shrimp)
  • Litopenaeus stylirostris (blue shrimp)
  • Litopenaeus vannamei (white leg shrimp)
  • Macrobrachium lanchesteri (riceland prawn)
  • Macrobrachium rosenbergii (giant river prawn)
  • Marsupenaeus japonicus (kuruma prawn)
  • Metapenaeus ensis (greasyback prawn)
  • Penaeus monodon (giant tiger prawn)
  • Sesarma mederi (red crab)
  • Scylla serrata (giant mud crab)
  • Uca vocans (Atlantic hairback fiddler)

Note: The terms "shrimp" and "prawn" can both be used.

Is Taura syndrome a risk to human health?

No.  The causal agent of Taura syndrome is not a risk to human health.

What are the signs of Taura syndrome?

Taura syndrome causes death in juvenile and adult crustaceans. In 75 to 95 percent of cases, death occurs within one week of the appearance of disease.

Affected crustaceans may exhibit any of the following signs:

  • behaviour
    • stop feeding
    • gather at edges of rearing units
    • exhibit abnormal swimming behaviour
  • appearance
    • soft shell
    • appear pale red but the tail fan can be very red
    • decreased growth
    • empty gut (clear appearance)
    • tail muscle appears white (similar to a cooked appearance)
    • many irregularly shaped dark spots on the shell

Is Taura syndrome found in Canada?

No. The causal agent of Taura syndrome is not currently found in Canada.

How is Taura syndrome spread?

Taura syndrome is spread between crustaceans by

  • cannibalism, and
  • water contaminated with the virus.

People can spread the disease by moving any of the following:

  • infected live or dead crustaceans,
  • contaminated equipment, or
  • contaminated water.

How is Taura syndrome diagnosed?

Diagnosing Taura syndrome requires laboratory testing. Not all infected crustaceans will show signs of disease.

How is Taura syndrome treated?

There are no treatment options currently available for Taura syndrome.

What measures can be taken to prevent the introduction and spread of Taura syndrome?

If you frequently handle or work with crustaceans, be aware of the clinical signs of Taura syndrome.

Do not import live infected crustaceans into Canada.

  • An import permit is required from the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) for certain species of crustaceans as of December 2011.
  • People bringing crustaceans into Canada should check other federal, provincial, and/or territorial requirements before they import crustaceans or enter into Canada with crustaceans.

Do not introduce live crustaceans from another country or province into the natural waters of Canada.

  • People releasing crustaceans into the natural waters or into rearing facilities within Canada should check if federal or provincial and/or territorial permits are required.

Shells removed from crustaceans should be disposed of in your municipal garbage and should not be composted.

Do not use crustaceans that were bought in a grocery store as bait for catching fish or other aquatic animals. 

The CFIA recommends that you do not visit Canadian aquaculture sites, zoos or aquariums for 14 days if you have travelled to another country, and

  • visited an aquaculture site, or
  • had contact with wild crustaceans.

Wash and disinfect the footwear you wore to the site or when you had contact with wild crustaceans. Also, wash your clothing thoroughly and dry it at a high temperature.

What is done to protect Canadian aquatic animals from Taura syndrome?

Taura syndrome is a reportable disease in Canada. This means that anyone who owns or works with aquatic animals, who knows of or suspects Taura syndrome in the animals that they own or work with, is required by law to notify the CFIA.

If Taura syndrome is found in Canada, the CFIA would control its spread by implementing disease response activities. These may include

  • controlling the movements of infected animals that people own or work with
  • humanely destroying infected animals
  • cleaning and disinfecting

The control measures chosen would depend on the situation.

What do I do if I think crustaceans that I am raising or keeping have Taura syndrome?

If you suspect a crustacean that you are raising or keeping may have Taura syndrome, you are required under the Health of Animals Act to immediately notify the CFIA.

How do I get more information?

For more information about reportable diseases, visit the Aquatic Animal Health page, contact your local CFIA Animal Health Office, or your CFIA Area office:

  • Atlantic: 506-777-3939
  • Quebec: 514-283-8888
  • Ontario: 226-217-8555
  • West: 587-230-2200
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