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University unveils shrimp-killer early-warning system

TAIPEI--A Taiwanese university unveiled a technology yesterday that allows shrimp farmers to identify early a bacterium that causes mass die-offs among cultured shrimps in many countries.

The technology, co-developed by National Cheng Kung University in Tainan, enables farmers to conduct a test to find out within a day whether their shrimps are infected with the bacterium that causes a disease that has swept several Asian countries since 2009, causing huge losses.

The technique can help prevent the disease from spreading in the early stages, thereby reducing losses.

Baby shrimps with the disease, dubbed early mortality syndrome, display symptoms about 10 days after being released into aquaculture ponds and die in large numbers soon afterward, according to Grace Low, head of the university's college of bioscience and biotechnology, who led the research team.

Massive shrimp die-offs caused by the disease have been reported in China, Vietnam and Thailand, causing losses topping US$1 billion annually per year, according to Low.

The affliction is officially named acute hepatopancreas necrosis syndrome and the research team is offering free access to the technology for shrimp farmers around the world.

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