Abalone viral ganglioneuritis

Abalone viral ganglioneuritis (AVG) is caused by the abalone herpes virus. It affects the abalone nervous system, causing weakness and eventually death.

AVG is a notifiable disease, meaning it must be reported.

AVG can spread through the water from:

  • infected abalone or abalone product (offal, shells or mucus),
  • fishing equipment (including wetsuits, anchors, rock lobster pots and ropes)
  • people who have come into contact with infected abalone or bottom habitat.

Although the virus has never been recorded in South Australia, ongoing surveillance is in place because of its potential to severely impact local abalone stocks and reef ecosystems. AVG is known to occur elsewhere in Australia.

How to identify AVG

Clinical signs of AVG. Left image: curling of the foot - indicated by the yellow arrows. Right image: swollen mouth with an everted radula - indicated by the red arrow. Source: P Hardy-Smith (www.agriculture.gov.au).
Clinical signs of AVG. Left image: curling of the foot - indicated by the yellow arrows. Right image: swollen mouth with an everted radula - indicated by the red arrow. Source: P Hardy-Smith (www.agriculture.gov.au).

Signs of the disease can include:

  • High mortality (up to 90% dead) of abalone in an area.
  • Edges of the foot curled inwards, leading to poor suction to their tank or reef.
  • Swollen mouth parts (see picture above).
  • Excessive mucus production.

Guidelines for decontamination

If you suspect you, your fishing or dive gear has come in to contact with infected abalone or bottom habitat, take the following steps.

Decontaminating vessels

  • Remove all organic matter from the inside and outside of the vessel
  • Dispose all organic material on land, away from the water.
  • Move vessel away from the water and wash it with freshwater and detergent.

Decontaminating wetsuits and dive equipment

Use neoprene wash for wet suits and mild liquid soap for dive equipment. Soak in soapy freshwater for 30 minutes, rinse and allow to air dry.

If AVG is suspected or confirmed, then decontamination should also include the use of 200 ppm effective chlorine (e.g. 31 grams of pool chlorine in 100 L of water) for at least 20 minutes. For full details:

  1. Visit the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority permit search.
  2. Search for permit PER86206.

Decontaminating people

If you suspect you have come into contact with infected abalone:

  • Wash your hands with soapy freshwater.
  • Spray waterproof clothing with soapy freshwater, rinse and allow to air dry.
  • Wash clothes in laundry detergent.

Protecting South Australian abalone

You can help keep South Australian abalone free from disease:

  • Live abalone must not be brought into South Australia from interstate, unless within the requirements of the Livestock Act 1997.
  • Do not use dead abalone or abalone gut for bait or berley.
  • Remember, dead abalone or abalone gut purchased as seafood for human consumption may have been sourced from outside of South Australia. By using it in South Australian waters, you risk spreading aquatic diseases.
  • If you find dead abalone, especially clusters of shells, report it to Fishwatch on 1800 065 522.
  • Carefully follow decontamination guidelines if you suspect you or your fishing / diving gear has come into contact with infected abalone.
  • Dispose of abalone shell, meat and gut in household rubbish, not at sea.

Report suspected cases

AVG is a notifiable disease and must be reported.

Report suspected cases immediately to Fishwatch on 1800 065 522. The hotline operates 24 hours per day, seven days per week.

More information

Page Last Reviewed: 03 Jul 2018
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