WSSV has caused great losses to the global shrimp industry in recent years. This virus can infect shrimps asymptomatically. However, once the clinical signs are developed, mortalities can reach 100% in 3-10 days. PCR has been extensively used to detect WSSV in a specific and sensitive manner. Nested PCR is even more sensitive than single-step PCR and had been used for the detection of WSSV in asymptomatic populations. In this work, a detailed monitoring of WSSV by nested PCR in shrimp commercial ponds in Guasave County, State of Sinaloa, Mexico, is presented. Five ponds from two different farms were monitored for growth and presence of WSSV. At the beginning of the culture, ponds from both farms showed no or very slight WSSV presence. A 3-day period of rain occurred at both farms 10 and 14 weeks of culture for farms 1 and 2, respectively. At this time, WSSV was widely distributed in the shrimp populations of farm 1 according to nested-PCR data, although no visual symptoms were observed. In ponds of farm 2, WSSV was present at low level. However, the number of PCR-positive groups was drastically increased in both farms by nested and single-step PCR. Abrupt fluctuations in temperature and salinity were documented in farm 2 after the rain, which may have contributed to the increasing of viral load in the pond's shrimp populations. Twelve days after the rain period, estimated mortalities of 80% occurred in farm 1. Nevertheless, the study ponds at farm 2 culture continued normally for three more weeks and were harvested successfully (52% and 67% of survival for ponds 1 and 2, respectively). The removal of 40% and 50% of shrimp population 2-4 days after the raining period may have contributed to the thriving of the cultures. Analyses of the presence of WSSV in individuals of both sexes indicated that there is no preference for this virus to infect male or female shrimp. Also, no differences in weight were found between WSSV infected and non-infected individual shrimps, as well as nested-PCR positive against single-step PCR positive organisms. Nested PCR is more useful to monitor shrimp cultures than single-step PCR since it allows knowing how widely distributed the virus is in asymptomatically populations. © 2005 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.