DNR: Largemouth Bass Virus spreading in southern Michigan
LANSING, Mich. (AP) -- Largemouth Bass Virus appears
to be spreading in southern Michigan lakes, the state
Department of Natural Resources said Tuesday.
The virus is not known to infect humans, and infected
fish are considered safe to eat. But all fish should be
thoroughly cooked as a precaution, the DNR said in a statement.
Biologists from the Michigan and Indiana departments
of natural resources discovered the presence of Largemouth
Bass Virus (LMBV) in the fall of 2000 while jointly investigating
the deaths of largemouth bass in Lake George, located
on the Michigan-Indiana border near Interstate 69.
Since then, LMBV has been found in two other Michigan
lakes, three in northern Indiana and one other border
lake between Michigan and Indiana. The virus was also
detected this year in lakes and reservoirs in Illinois
for the first time.
The origin of the virus and how it is spread are unknown.
Other fish species, including smallmouth bass, bluegill
and crappies, can be infected with LMBV, but it has been
fatal only to largemouth bass, said John Hnath, a Michigan
DNR fish pathologist.
Infected fish usually appear normal, although they may
be lethargic, swim slowly and are less responsive to activity
around them. Dying fish often are seen near the surface
and have difficulty remaining upright.
Upon internal examination, such fish usually will have
bloated swim bladders, which accounts for the cause of
swimming problems. Red sores or other lesions occasionally
may be seen on the skin of the fish, but these are secondary
in nature and not part of the virus infection.
The DNR said anglers and boaters can take these steps
to help prevent the spread of the virus:
-- Clean boats, trailers and other equipment thoroughly
between fishing trips to keep from transporting LMBV,
as well as other undesirable pathogens and organisms,
from one body of water to another.
-- Do not move fish or fish parts from one body of water
to another, and do not release live bait into any water
-- Handle bass as gently as possible if you intend to
-- Stage tournaments during cooler weather, so fish caught
will not be so stressed.
-- Report dead or dying fish to state wildlife agencies.
-- Volunteer to help agencies collect bass for LMBV monitoring.
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