Most of the problems currently confronting the shrimp farming industry are related to the widespread occurrence of disease, e.g. parasitic infestation, or bacterial and viral infections. These disease problems can lead to heavy losses to the industry and as such, the industry has focused much of its attention to deal with such threats. However, there are other potential threats that have been disregarded by the industry, and one such factor is the presence of mycotoxins in shrimp feed.
Several studies have reported pathological signs of mycotoxin poisoning in fish and shrimp species that can cause economic losses to the industry.
The general disregard regarding the consequence of mycotoxin contamination in shrimp feeds is directly related to the lack of information on the impact of the different mycotoxins in crustacean culture.
Even though the information is limited, several studies have been conducted on the toxicity of mycotoxins toward aquatic invertebrates. These studies however, have been focusing mainly in aflatoxins.
It was also concluded that white tiger shrimp are more sensitive to mycotoxins then black tiger shrimp.
Evidence suggests that consumption of diets contaminated with mycotoxins suppresses the immune system and decreases disease resistance. This can occur even when animals are consuming low or moderate contaminated products, as such its effects pass unnoticed and the economical losses are normally just associated with the disease outbreak causing the damage.
The effects of mycotoxins on immunological responses of terrestrial animals have been examined extensively. Most of this toxins cause impairment of the immune system by inhibiting the synthesis of key proteins associated with the immune function. Haemocytes, in conjunction with fixed phagocytes form the immunocompetent components of the shrimp immune system, and as such a reduction on their numbers can result in a decreased disease resistance, making the shrimp more susceptible to infections.
The contamination of feeds and raw materials by mycotoxins is a reality and its increasing on a global basis making it increasingly likely that any given feedstuff could contain one or, more likely, several mycotoxins. They are invisible, odourless and tasteless toxins with a major impact on animal health.
Although the presence of mycotoxins in feed represents an increasing threat to aquaculture operations, there are a number of options available to feed manufacturers and farmers to prevent or reduce the risk of mycotoxicosis associated with mycotoxin contamination. These range from careful selection of raw materials, maintaining good storage conditions for feeds and raw materials, and using an effective mycotoxin deactivator product to combat the widest possible range of different mycotoxins that may be present.
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Article made possible through the contribution of Biomin.