Introduction

During the early 2010, attracted by high shrimp selling prices, many producers in Thailand
decided to use increased stocking densities in the search of higher production levels.
Nevertheless, unusually high water temperatures (>32°C) and higher feeding rates resulted in
increased organic matter levels in the ponds, with the emergence of a new pathological entity
called “white feces disease”. The disease was first detected in Penaeus monodon cultivated in
low salinity waters (3-5‰), but it was later spread throughout Thai’s entire shrimp production
area, where currently 99% production corresponds to Litopenaeus vannamei.
Disease scenario
The disease occurs under different soil conditions, and it results in deteriorated water
quality. Peak mortality rates are seen in the face of extremely low oxygen (<3.0 mg/L)/low
alkalinity (<80 ppm) levels. Early disease indications appear in both control feed trays and at
water surface, where abundant floating white feces are observed (Figure 1).

Figure 1. Water surface and pond edge of a Litopenaeus vannamei culture affected by
white feces disease
Clinical signs
In addition to white feces, infected shrimp show a loose exoskeleton and epibiontic
protozoa infestation that causes a dark discoloration of the gills (Figure 2). The
histopathological examination reveals hemocyte encapsulation with nodules and melanization
of the hepatopancras.

Figure 2. A shrimp affected by white feces disease, showing darkened gills, with
epibiontic protozoa
White feces disease-related organisms
Both a group of Vibrio spp. bacteria and parasitic protozoa known as gregarins have been
related with the disease. The following Vibrio species have been found in the fecal analyses
performed in the Fisheries Faculty, University of Kasetsart, Thailand:
 Vibrio parahaemolyticus
 Vibrio fluvialis
 Vibrio alginolyticus
 Vibrio mimicus
Gregarins found in white feces of infected shrimp belong to the Nematopsis genus (Figure
3).

Figure 3. Gregarins found in the intestines of white feces disease-affected shrimp

Treatment

The first recommendation issued by Thai experts was for producers to decrease stocking
densities during the hot season. This results in decreased bottom organic matter, and reduced
bacterial (Vibrio spp.) proliferation. Likewise, some producers have successfully managed the
disease by using appropriate probiotics containing Bacillus subtilis that block the growth of
pathogenic Vibrio spp. bacteria. A treatment that has yielded good results in the control of
disease-associated gregarins has been the application of 5-10 grams of garlic per kilogram of
feed.