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Here, Fishy Fishy Fishy

By Margaret Lyons in News on Jun 19, 2008 5:31PM

2008_6_19.gonefishin.jpgI'll mention upfront that I'm afraid of fish, which may affect how disgusting I find this story, but the line "thousands of bloody, hemorrhaging fish" should gross out even the steeliest reader. Thousands! Gaaaah. They washed up on shore near Milwaukee.

The fish, round gobies (which have also been linked to botulism), are infected with viral hemorrhagic septicemia, an invasive infection that affects around 40 species of fish, including salmon and trout. It's considered an "emerging disease" because it's not native to the Great Lakes but is popping up here more and more. VHS was first detected in the Great Lakes in 2005 (but has been in our area since 2003), but last month's previously mentioned deadfishapalooza was the first time the virus was found in the southern part of Lake Michigan.

Scientists are worried that as the disease continues to spread, infected fish might end up swimming into the Chicago River system, which links the Great Lakes to the Mississippi River and the nation's vast middle section.

It might already be too late. On Wednesday, Ohio officials announced they had discovered the virus in muskie caught in the central part of the state, the first time this strain was found outside the Great Lakes basin.

Luckily, VHS doesn't pose a health threat to humans and birds. [Trib, USDA, image of an infected fish, which will haunt my nightmares for years to come, via Wikipedia]