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It Came From Lake Huron ...

By Laura Oppenheimer in Food on Feb 2, 2007 8:00PM

It's coming. A fish virus so deadly to our aquatic friends that it could have a serious impact on the $4.5 billion commercial and recreational industry in Lake Michigan. The disease is call Viral Hemorrhagic Septicemia (VHS) and luckily poses no risk to humans.

2007_2_fish.gifThe virus has seeped into northern Lake Huron, just 20 miles north of where it merges with Lake Michigan. Based on the articles we are reading, this could be seriously bad news for fish:

Scientists have said the virus was responsible for the deaths of freshwater drum and perch in Lake Erie last spring. It then moved west, killing round gobies in Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River. In Lake Huron, it infected salmon, whitefish and walleyes.

The virus does not affect humans, but it can kill a wide range of fish, including yellow perch. It causes lesions, hemorrhaging and blood loss in infected fish.

Ew. So what can be done? Last October the U.S. Department of Agriculture banned transport of live fish from the Great Lakes region. But inevitably people complained, so that ban has been modified to allow people to transport fish with proper documentation. How much damage the virus causes may ultimately depend on whether the fish develop immunity to it, said Kelley Smith, chief of the Department of Natural Resources’s fisheries division. We hope VHS stays in Lake Huron where it belongs.

Lake Michigan is already filthy enough; we don't need thousands of dead fish mucking it up even more.

Image via Great Lakes Sport Fishing Council.