AMES, Iowa — The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is reaching out to anglers and boaters in an attempt to prevent the spread of viral hemorrhagic septicemia (VHS), a fish-killing disease that has infected smallmouth bass and more than a dozen other species.
First confirmed in the Great Lakes in 2005, VHS might have been introduced in the ballast water of oceangoing ships. Of those five large lakes, only Superior has been spared. The deadly fish disease also has moved into several inland waters, including Lake Winnebago in Wisconsin. Although it poses no threat to human health, VHS has killed millions of fish as its range has expanded.
USDA's first step was to outlaw the interstate transport of more than three dozen species of fish. Now, through a new Web site — www.focusonfishhealth.org — it hopes to enlist anglers and boaters in its containment effort.
"Our primary goal in setting up this Web site is to educate boaters and anglers," said Dr. Glenda Dvorak at Iowa State's College of Veterinary Medicine. She added that the campaign is the result of a diverse alliance that includes government agencies, universities and industry.
"We're trying to keep the disease out of areas, states and aquaculture facilities where it has not yet been detected," she said.
The site includes history and specifics of VHS, as well as recommendations for preventing its spread and state and federal regulations related to the disease.
USDA offers these tips on how you can help:
Don't move fish from one fishery to another.
Don't dispose of fish or byproducts, including unused bait, in any body of water.
Don't transfer water between locations.
Remove mud and debris from vehicles and equipment before you leave a fishery.
Follow regulations in your state.
Report fish kills or fish with external lesions to your state fisheries agency.
For more great stories and the latest bass
fishing news, subscribe to BASS Times.
Call 877-BASS-USA to order today.