Language selection


Red Disease of Penaeid Shrimp


Category 3 (Host Not in Canada)

Common, generally accepted names of the organism or disease agent

Red discolouration disease.

Scientific name or taxonomic affiliation

Cause unknown. A Gram positive coccus has been observed consistently in hepatopancreas cells and tubules, but microbial toxins from rancid feed has been implicated.

Geographic distribution

Taiwan, Philippines, and Malaysia.

Host species

Penaeus monodon, possibly Penaeus stylirostris and other penaeids.

Impact on the host

Initially a yellowish-green discolouration of the body of the shrimp which eventually becomes distinctly red and often results in death. The red discolouration that characterizes this disease is from the normal hepatopancreatic carotenoid pigments that are distributed throughout the body by the haemolymph at the time of necrosis and atrophy of the hepatopancreas. Because necrosis of the hepatopancreas from any cause (such as Taura syndrome and Reo-like virus disease) may have a similar effect, red disease may be a collection of several disease syndromes, each with a different aetiology, but with similar gross signs and histopathology.

Diagnostic techniques

Gross Observations: As above. In advanced cases, hepatopancreas may be pale or yellowish and atrophied.

Histology: Hepatopancreas with massive inflammation and necrosis. Gram positive cocci (1.0-1.5 µm) infecting the hepatopancreas epithelium.

Methods of control

No known treatment.


Lightner, D.V. 1988. Red 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. 100-103.

Lightner, D.V. and R.M. Redman. 1985. Necrosis of the hepatopancreas in Penaeus monodon and Penaeus stylirostris with red disease. Journal of Fish Diseases 8: 181­188.

Citation Information

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

Date last revised: Fall 1994
Comments to Susan Bower

Date modified: