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Yellowhead disease (YHD) is a viral infection of shrimp and prawn, in particular of the giant tiger prawn (Penaeus monodon), one of the two major species of farmed shrimp. The disease is highly lethal and contagious, killing shrimp quickly. Outbreaks of this disease have wiped out in a matter of days the entire populations of many shrimp farms that cultivated P. monodon, i.e. particularly Southeast Asian farms. In Thai, the disease is called Hua leung.
The disease is caused by the yellowhead virus (YHV), a positive-sense single-stranded RNA virus related to coronaviruses and arteriviruses. A closely related virus is the gill-associated virus (GAV), which is the type species of the genus Okavirus.
The cephalothorax of infected shrimp turns yellow after a period of unusually high feeding activity ending abruptly, and the then moribund shrimps congregate near the surface of their pond before dying. YHD leads to death of the animals within two to four days.
- Gulf States Marine Fisheries Commission: Non-Native Species Summaries: Yellowhead Virus (YHV) Archived 2007-09-28 at the Wayback Machine., 2003. Accessed June 30, 2005.
- World Organization for Animal Health (OIE): Aquatic Manual, 4th Ed., 2003. Section 4.1.3 Archived 2005-04-03 at the Wayback Machine.. ISBN 92-9044-563-7.