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National Reference Laboratories for Crustacean Diseases

(White Spot Disease, Yellow Head Disease, Taura Syndrome)

The national reference laboratories for crustacean diseases are responsible for establishing, coordinating and ensuring the diagnosis of White Spot Disease, Taura Syndrome and Yellowhead Disease in Germany based on the valid legal regulations. The NRL for crustacean diseases is supported by the European Union  Reference Laboratory (EURL) in Weymouth. So far, crustacean diseases play a minor role in Germany compared to other reportable and notifiable animal diseases, as there are only few farms which raise noble crayfish (Astacus astacus), signal crayfish (Pacifastacus leniusculus) and American spiny-cheek crayfish (Orconectes limosus). Only a handful of these holdings are full-time businesses. Worldwide however, notifiable crustacean diseases are of strong economic relevance especially in shrimp farming which will be extended gradually in Germany in warm water facilities (power plants, biogas production plants). In addition, crayfish which are not subject to surveillance and are used as baits for fishing represent a threat for the crayfish population in wild waters and attached crayfish farms. The NRL is responsible for transferring the methods established and recommended by the EURL and the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) to the state diagnostic authorities, especially to those which have crayfish farms within their area of responsibility.

Services of the NRL are offered pursuant to the regulations of Council Directive 2006/88/EC on animal health requirements for aquaculture animals and products thereof, and on the prevention and control of certain diseases in aquatic animals. 

ANNEX VI of Directive 2006/88/EG: Functions and duties of laboratories 

PART II National reference laboratories 

  1. The national reference laboratories for crustacean diseases designated pursuant to Article 56 shall be responsible for coordinating the diagnostic standards and methods within their field of responsibility in the Member State concerned. 

These national reference laboratories shall

a) undertake to notify, without delay, the competent authority whenever the laboratory is aware of a suspicion of any of the exotic (Taura Syndrome, Yellowhead Disease) and non-exotic (Whitespot Disease) diseases of crayfish; 

b) coordinate, in consultation with the relevant EU reference laboratory, the methods employed in Member States for diagnosing the crustacean diseases listed in Annex IV under their responsibility; 

c) assist actively in the diagnosis of outbreaks of the relevant disease by receiving pathogen isolates for confirmatory diagnosis, characterisation and epizootic studies; 

d) facilitate the training or retraining of experts in laboratory diagnosis with a view to harmonising diagnostic techniques for the crustacean diseases listed in Annex IV throughout the Member State; 

e) ensure confirmation of positive results of all outbreaks of exotic diseases listed in Part II of Annex IV, and of primary outbreaks of non-exotic diseases listed in that Annex; 

f) organise periodic comparative tests (ring tests) of diagnostic procedures at national level with the laboratories designated by the Member States in accordance with Article 57; 

g) cooperate with the EU reference laboratory referred to in Article 55 and participate in the comparative tests organised by the EU reference laboratories; 

h) ensure a regular and open dialogue with their national competent authorities; 

i) operate and be assessed and accredited in accordance with the following European Standards: EN ISO/IEC 17025; EN 45002; EN 45003 

Other tasks

  1. Testing of commercial diagnostics within the frame of licensing procedures and batch release;
  2. Supply of diagnostics which are not available commercially;
  3. Annual report to the CRL on epidemiological and laboratory data on the diagnosis and control of the crustacean diseases listed in Annex IV;
  4. Participation in the annual meeting of the representants of the NRL of the EU Member States;
  5. Publication of recommendations with regard to the diagnosis of the crustacean diseases listed in Annex IV in the „Official collection of methods of the animal disease reporting system TSN” and the Animal Disease Control Manual.
  • is provided by the EURL
  1. Histology on suspected diagnosis 
  2. PCR (Whitespot Disease) and RT-PCR (Yellowhead Disease, Taura Syndrome) www.crustaceancrl.eu/default.aspx followed by sequencing

COMMISSION IMPLEMENTING DECISION (EU) 2015/1554 of 11 September 2015 laying down rules for the application of Directive 2006/88/EC as regards requirements for surveillance and diagnostic methods (notified under document C (2015) 6188)

Council Directive 2006/88/EC on animal health requirements for aquaculture animals and products thereof, and on the prevention and control of certain diseases in aquatic animals (Official Journal of the EU No. L328 p. 14)

Regulation on Notifiable Diseases in the version of the announcement of  Juli 19th 2011 (BGBl. I S. 1404)


Law on the Prevention and Control of Infectious Animal Diseases (Animal Health Law – TierGesG) of May 22nd 2013 (BGBl. I S. 1324 (Nr. 25)

Manual of Diagnostic Tests for Aquatic Animals (2017) des Office International des Epizooties (O.I.E.)

in their latest versions