Environmentalists and sea watchers alike have been tracking a virulent strain of herpes that is decimating oyster crops around the world. Discovery News reports on a vicious strain of herpes that is responsible for killing countless Pacific or rock oysters this summer. What's the reason for this new flood of oyster deaths? Experts are pointing to climate change. 

Oyster crops are down around the globe as farmers report high death rates amongst their stock. The Guardian reports that OsHV-1 virus, which only affects Pacific oysters, is particularly lethal. Though it shows no physical signs, it is thought to have wiped out at least 8 million oysters in one English town alone. The oyster industry is all but decimated in the United Kingdom, where authorities have banned the movement of oysters from one location to another.

Some have declared the oyster industry dead in Britain. Graham West has a family business dredging oysters in Whitstable, England. As he told The Telegraph, "That's the big secret we've been keeping for seven years. But no one says it because of the tourists."

What does global warming have to do with herpes in oysters? The herpes virus springs to life when water temperatures exceed 61 degrees Fahrenheit. Since ocean temperatures are warming, more oysters are feeling the heat. Ultimately, this heat may be the end of the Pacific oyster, which is praised for its balance of protein, vitamins and minerals. It's ironic that the food of love is being taken down by a sexually transmitted disease.

For further reading:

Herpes epidemic in oysters grows
Climate change makes conditions ripe for an aggressive strain of herpes that is killing Pacific oysters.