Diseases of crustaceans

Some crustacean diseases of particular significance in Scotland.

Aerococcus viridans

Aerococcus viridans is the causative agent of Gaffkemia (or red tail disease), the chronic disease of lobsters first isolated from the American lobster (Homarus americanus) in Maine in 1947. 

Although pathogenic to the American lobster, the disease is far more destructive in the European lobster (Homarus gammarus) and can cause significant mortality within days in this species.  Water temperature has a significant effect on the severity of the outbreak with mortality occurring more quickly the higher the water temperature. 

The pathogen is thought to have been introduced to Europe with the American lobster however prevalence in wild lobsters is thought to be low.  The disease infects the internal organs and haemolymph and presents in the lobster as lethargy and the development of a pink colour on the ventral side of the abdomen.  Preventative / control measures include medicated feeds, vaccines and antibiotics as well as good husbandry and lowering of the water temperature.


  • Bacteriological culture and biochemical testing
  • Histopathology
  • Molecular confirmation
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