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Images: A Mysterious Disease Is Infecting Northeast Clam Beds

QPX has been found in wild clams, but it hits cultured clams particularly hard. Aquaculture specialists such as Barnstable County?s Bill Walton are studying favorable growing conditions, hoping to give clams a chance against QPX. (Photo by Dale Leavitt, Roger Williams University)

Captain Andrew Cummings stands atop clams he and others dug out of their Wellfleet plots to quell a QPX outbreak last winter. Cummings estimated the removal claimed nearly 2 million clams. (Photo courtesy of Captain Andrew Cummings)

Marine biologists Roxanna Smolowitz (left) of the Marine Biological Laboratory and Rebecca Gast of Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution examine a batch of tiny seed clams. A new genetic technique developed by Gast lets the scientists identify QPX in clams that don't look infected, as well as in open water and sediments. That has given the scientists a way to learn more about how the QPX organism infects clams.

Clams with QPX rise to the sand?s surface before they die. Healthy clams, if there are any left, are hidden from view. (Photo by Maille Lyons, University of Connecticut)