Officials confirm virus killing Lake St. Clair fish - WNEM TV 5

Officials confirm virus killing Lake St. Clair fish

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Source: Michigan Department of Natural Resources Source: Michigan Department of Natural Resources

Michigan officials say a virus is responsible for recent fish deaths in Lake St. Clair.

The Department of Natural Resources said people reported several fish kills in the area, primarily affecting gizzard shad.

The department announced Monday, May 1 that test results on fish collected were confirmed to be positive for viral hemorrhagic septicemia virus. Fish were collected during late March and early April and included gizzard shad, bluegill and black and white crappie. 

“A total of 165 fish have been tested thus far using pooled samples of five fish, and of the 33 pooled samples, 31 of them have been positive for VHSv,” said Gary Whelan, research program manager for the DNR’s Fisheries Division. “Ten gizzard shad were tested individually and all were positive for the virus. These results confirm what we initially suspected, given the external signs on the fish, species involved, and timing of the fish kill, all strongly implicating VHSv as the cause of this fish kill.”

DNR officials said the pathogen has been present in Lake St. Clair since the early 2000s. The virus causes fish to have bloody patches on their skin, a common sign of the virus.

The virus is known to infect more than 30 species of Great Lakes fish. It's been found in lakes Superior, Huron, Erie and Ontario, along with a few inland lakes.

The reasons for the fish kill occurring this year are under investigation.

Anglers can help prevent its spread by refraining from moving live fish between water bodies and properly disposing bait.

For more information on the virus, click here

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