Herpes Virus Kills Half of French Oyster Population This Year

Date: July 28, 2011

 Jul 26, 2011

Mortality on oyster farms on France’s Mediterranean and Atlantic coasts ranged from 27 percent to 90 percent, according to a Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries alert dated July 25 and published by the Paris-based World Organization for Animal Health.

French production of Pacific oysters fell 38 percent last year to 80,000 metric tons because of Ostreid Herpesvirus 1, or OsHV-1, according to Maryline Maingam, a spokeswoman for the country’s National Shellfish Committee.

“The event is unlikely to be contained and is now considered to be endemic,” the world animal-health organization, known by its acronym OIE, said in the statement referring to the impact of the virus.

The disease drove up wholesale prices of Pacific oysters, whose scientific name is Crassostrea gigas, by 20 percent in 2010, according to the National Institute of Statistics and Economic Studies.

Mortality rates were lowest in the Bay of Veys in the Calvados region on the English Channel, with 27 percent of the shellfish, known in French as huitres creuses, dying from the virus. In the Salses-Leucate salt-water lagoon in the Languedoc region on the Mediterranean Sea, in the south of France, 90 percent of farmed oysters died, according to the notice.

The virus starts killing oysters when water temperatures top about 16 degrees Celsius (61 degrees Fahrenheit).

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