Sunday, July 1, 2007

Deadly VHS Hits Lake Michigan Fish

Viral hemorrhagic septicemia was confirmed in a dead brown trout that washed ashore in Wisconsin

Wisconsin wildlife officials confirmed a deadly fish disease in Lake Michigan, while their Michigan counterparts are researching suspected diseased fish closer to home.

Viral hemorrhagic septicemia was confirmed in a dead brown trout that washed ashore near the Kewaunee/Algoma area in Wisconsin. That marks the first discovery of the disease in Lake Michigan.

Samples also being tested and suspected of being contaminated with VHS came from northern areas of Lake Michigan like Green Bay, as well as southern sites near Arcadia in Manistee County and Grand Haven, Whelan said.

"We don't know what the effect of VHS will be on our fish communities because no one has any experience with this disease and this isolate (genetic type of the disease) in fresh water. It could kill a substantial number of some fish species in some life stages, but we don't know which ones it will affect," Whelan said.

The disease causes internal bleeding in fish and spreads when live fish or contaminated water is moved to new waters.

Discovery of VHS in Lake Michigan signifies a real threat to a fishery that provides countless hours of recreation for anglers and contributes significantly to the state economy, said Donna Stine, interim executive director for Michigan United Conservation Clubs. "This is not a small issue or a problem that's simply going to go away."

On June 28 the DNR began implementing regulations designed to slow the spread of VHS. These measures for the fish species listed in the Control Order include emptying live wells and bilge water from boats when leaving the water, and not moving bait or releasing fish in unconnected water bodies. Bait dealers must inform anglers where uncertified (to be disease free) bait can be used. For full regulations see the DNR web site (link below).

The disease is believed to have reached the Great Lakes through the dumping of untreated ballast water from ocean-going ships, the same route thought to be traveled by other exotic invaders to North America's freshwater inland seas.

read the entire article in the Traverse City Record Eagle- see FAIR USE notice
read an entire article in the June 30, 2007 Ludington Daily News- see FAIR USE notice
see full Fish Disease Control Order Michigan DNR
These links are checked on the date of the article. As the article ages, some links may become invalid

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