A deadly virus is threatening Louisiana crawfish. Aquaculture specialist Mark Shirley with the LSU AgCenter says the white spot syndrome virus showed up in Acadiana about a decade ago. He says the virus is showing up again in ponds across southwest Louisiana, and it’s hurting the crawfish harvest.

“Bottom line is it kills them. It makes them sick for a brief period. They lose their mobility. They lose their coordination, and pretty rapidly they die,” Shirley said.

Shirley says how the virus got into Louisiana waters is still a big unknown. He says it originated in shrimp ponds in Thailand and Southeast Asia in the early 1990s. That’s why it’s called the white spot syndrome.

“On the shell of a shrimp there is a white blotchy spot on the shell about the size of a pencil eraser, but on crawfish you don’t see that white spot,” Shirley said.

Shirley says this virus can greatly affect a crawfish farmer’s income by killing off the harvest. But he says it won’t affect consumers as much. He says this virus only affects crustaceans, and the dead crawfish shouldn’t make it to the boiling pot.

“They’re pulled out. Only live crawfish are put in the sack and delivered to the market. So you’re not going to get a bunch of dead, infected crawfish in your sack of crawfish,” Shirley said.