Early Mortality Syndrome (EMS)

Early Mortality Syndrome (EMS) is an emerging disease caused by bacteria. EMS typically affects shrimp that are not yet marketable size (40 days old or younger). The disease does not affect humans but is often fatal to shrimp. Infected shrimp ponds can experience loss rates as high as 100 percent.

EMS was first reported in 2009 in Asia. It caused large-scale die-offs of cultivated shrimp in such countries as China, Malaysia, Thailand, and Vietnam. EMS is not found in the United States.

Research indicates that EMS does not survive cooking or freezing. Given that frozen shrimp account for the vast majority of U.S. shrimp imports ($3.9 billion in 2011), the risk of EMS entering the US through these products appears quite low. At this time, there is no need for trade restrictions on frozen, processed shrimp destined for retail food sales in the United States.