AN outbreak of a virulent disease that only affects Pacific oysters has occurred at an oyster farm in Poole Harbour.

The notifiable oyster herpesvirus has been confirmed in juvenile Pacific oysters, also known as the rock or cupped oyster.

This is the only species of shellfish currently known to be susceptible to this virus and the Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science said there were “no implications for human health”.

However shellfish operators must apply to the Fish Health Inspectorate to move any live shellfish into or out of the designated area, which covers the whole of Poole Harbour.

The disease only occurs when water temperatures exceed 16 degrees C and the highest number of deaths are found in juvenile oysters.

It is found in many parts of the world and the first outbreak in the UK was at a shellfish farm in Whitstable, Kent in 2010, which was contained by statutory movement controls.