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Filamentous Bacterial Disease of Shrimp and Prawns

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Category 4 (Negligible Regulatory Significance in Canada)

Common, generally accepted names of the organism or disease agent

Filamentous bacterial (Leucothrix) disease.

Scientific name or taxonomic affiliation

Leucothrix mucor, Thiothrix sp., Flexibacter sp., Cytophaga sp., Flavobacterium sp.

Geographic distribution


Host species

All penaeids. Similar bacteria have been observed on Pandalus platyceros held in captivity.

Impact on the host

Discolouration of gills due to associated secondary infections. Larvae and postlarvae fouled. Reduced mobility, feeding and growth. Increased mortality.

Diagnostic techniques

Gross Observations

Direct microscopic examination of body surface at 100 × or higher reveals filaments of bacteria 3-5 µm wide and of variable length but often 100 to 500 µm long.

Methods of control

Possibly associated with poor water (high nutrient loading) or other poor husbandry which should be rectified.


Brock, J.A. and D.V. Lightner. 1990. Diseases of Crustacea. Diseases caused by microorganisms. In: O. Kinne (ed.). Diseases of Marine Animals. Volume III: Introduction, Cephalopoda, Annelida, Crustacea, Chaetognatha, Echinodermata, Urochordata. Biologische Anstalt Helgoland, Hamburg, p. 299-304.

Johnson, S.K. 1978. Handbook of Shrimp Diseases. Sea Grant College Publ. No. TAMU-SG-75-603. 23 p.

Lightner, D.V. 1988. Filamentous bacterial disease of penaeid shrimp. In: C.J. Sindermann and D.V. Lightner (eds.). Disease Diagnosis and Control in North American Marine Aquaculture. Developments in Aquaculture and Fisheries Science 17. Elsevier, Amsterdam, p. 52-57.

Lightner, D.V., C.T. Fontaine and K. Hanks. 1975. Some forms of gill disease in penaeid shrimp. Proceedings of the World Mariculture Society 7: 473-481

Citation Information

Bower, S.M., McGladdery, S.E., Price, I.M. (1994): Synopsis of Infectious Diseases and Parasites of Commercially Exploited Shellfish: Filamentous Bacterial Disease of Shrimp and Prawns.

Date last revised: September 1994
Comments to Susan Bower

Date modified: