Earth Science News  





. Lab Confirms Deadly Fish Virus Spreading To New Species

Example of Hemorrhagic Septicemia infected fish.
by Staff Writers
Ithaca, NY (SPX) May 23, 2007
A lethal fish virus in the Great Lakes and neighboring waterways is approaching epidemic proportions, according to Paul Bowser, Cornell professor of aquatic animal medicine in the College of Veterinary Medicine. The viral hemorrhagic septicemia virus (VHSV), which causes anemia and hemorrhaging in fish, has now been identified in 19 species and poses a potential threat to New York's $1.2 billion sport-fishing industry.

"It's pretty obvious this is an epidemic even if it isn't official," said Bowser. "There are just so many species affected and so many mortalities."

Three new fish kills have occurred in 2007 in New York waters since the virus was identified in the Great Lakes Basin in 2005. In the St. Lawrence River, hundreds of thousands of round gobies have succumbed to the disease; gizzard shad die-offs from VHSV in Lake Ontario west of Rochester and in Dunkirk Harbor on Lake Erie also have been reported.

This month the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources made a presumptive identification of the virus for the first time in the Lake Winnebago chain of inland lakes about 25 miles south of Green Bay on Lake Michigan; confirmation is pending. And millions of dead freshwater drum formed windrows of carcasses along the beaches of Lake Erie in 2006, all victims of VHSV.

Other species from the Great Lakes Basin area that have tested positive by Cornell include bluegill, rock bass, black crappie, pumpkinseed, smallmouth and largemouth bass, muskellunge (New York's No. 2 sport fish), northern pike, walleye, yellow perch, channel catfish, brown bullhead, white perch, white bass, emerald shiner, bluntnose minnow, freshwater drum, round goby, gizzard shad and burbot. Roughly 1,600 fish have been tested at Cornell since May 2006.

Bowser suspects the virus may have originated from an infected marine fish off the Atlantic Coast and that the virus is still relatively new to the region. Other possible sources of the virus include the movement of infected fish by airborne or terrestrial predators, anglers using infected bait minnows, contaminated fishing equipment or live water wells in boats, boating activities and ballast water.

"Basically, we don't know how it got here, but it is here and it's spreading," said Bowser. "It would be wonderful if we did know. However, I don't think we ever will."

The Great Lakes VHSV is not related to the European or Japanese genotypes and poses no health threat to humans, said Bowser. However, as a general rule, people should avoid eating any fish (or game) that appears abnormal or behaves abnormally. Not all infected fish, however, exhibit symptoms. Some may be carriers, and visible signs of the disease may vary from species to species.

Containing the spread of the virus in New York will require restrictions on the movement of live fish, testing fish and surveillance. For instance, New York state regulations require that bait fish be used in the same body of water from which they were collected unless they have been tested.

In Wisconsin, new emergency rules prohibit anglers and boaters from moving live fish and require them to drain their boats and live wells before leaving Wisconsin's Great Lakes waters, the Mississippi River and those tributaries up to the first impassable dams, according to the Associated Press.

The spread of the virus could have a devastating impact on aquaculture and particularly the channel catfish trade, which constitutes about 80 percent of aquaculture business in the United States, said Bowser. Catfish is a very popular food fish in the Deep South.

"We have detected VHSV in channel catfish in our surveillance efforts," said Bowser. "The ability of the virus to go beyond a carrier state and cause disease in this important aquaculture species is a major research question we plan to investigate this year."

Cornell researchers have been assisting the New York state VHSV surveillance in collaboration with the state Department of Environmental Conservation, Cornell's Biological Field Station, Oneida Lake and the SUNY College of Environmental Sciences and Forestry-Syracuse Thousand Island Biological Station on the St. Lawrence River. Researchers also are working with support from the United States Department of Agriculture's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service.

Earlier this year Cornell's College of Veterinary Medicine received a two-year, $181,000 grant from the New York Sea Grant Program to advance a rapid technique, developed by Cornell virologist James Casey, for detecting the deadly virus. Current tests take a month, while the Cornell test yields results within 24 hours. Researchers hope to have the new technique validated by the end of 2007 and all fieldwork completed by the end of 2008.

Email This Article

Related Links
Cornell University
Epidemics on Earth - Bird Flu, HIV/AIDS, Ebola

AIDS Remains Global Worry
United Nations (UPI) May 23, 2007
The President of the U.N. General Assembly earlier this week opened a mandated review of efforts to stem the AIDS epidemic with some pretty sobering statistics and some advice on what to do about the continuing emergency yet voiced optimism the battle could be won. Sheikha Haya al-Khalifa of Bahrain, president of the 192-member assembly, said Monday since HIV/AIDS had been first discovered in 1981, more than 25 million people had died and continue dying at the rate of 8,000 a day, with 6,000 more becoming infected daily.

.
Get Our Free Newsletters Via Email
  



  • It Takes People Power To Overcome Disasters
  • International Cooperation Boosts EarthCARE
  • GeoOptics Announces 100-Spacecraft Array to Deliver Critical Hurricane And Climate Data
  • Japanese Scientists In Eye Of Storm ... With Goggles

  • CO2 Emissions Increasing Faster Than Expected
  • Climate Change, Energy Security Pose Risk To Mideast Stability
  • DiCaprio Bites Back With Quip That He Caught A Train Across The Atalanic
  • US Trying To Weaken G8 Climate Change Communique

  • Tracking A Hot Spot In The Center Of The Biggest Ocean On Earth
  • MetOp-A Takes Up Service
  • General Dynamics Awarded Contract For NASA's Landsat Data Continuity Mission Study
  • ESA Presents The Sharpest Ever Satellite Map Of Earth

  • EcoLEDs Announces Brightest Commercial LED Light Bulb Yet
  • New Process Generates Hydrogen from Aluminum Alloy To Run Engines And Fuel Cells
  • Burns Postpones India Visit Indefinitely As Nuke Deal Heads South
  • Novel Sugar-To-Hydrogen Technology Promises Transportation Fuel Independence

  • AIDS Remains Global Worry
  • Scientists Concerned About Effects Of Global Warming On Infectious Diseases
  • Lab Confirms Deadly Fish Virus Spreading To New Species
  • Computer Model Maps Efficient Inoculation Of Hospital Staff In Pandemic Outbreak

  • Professor Helps Develop Techniques To Reduce Threat Against Honeybees
  • New Wrinkle In Evolution With Man-Made Proteins
  • Miracle Of Evolution Fights For Survival In Death Valley
  • Scientists Seek Useful Traits In Wild Cottons

  • Pollution And Chemicals Blamed For Massive Cancer Rate Risa Across China
  • Beijing To Turn Garbage Into Power
  • Chinese Climate Official Calls On Rich Nations To Share Technology
  • New York Times To Defend Indonesian Mining Lawsuit

  • Exercise Reverses Aging In Human Skeletal Muscle
  • Sweden Mulls Freeze-Drying As New Burial Method
  • Brain Size And Gender Surprises In Latest Fossil Tying Humans Apes And Monkeys
  • Beyond Paris

  • The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2006 - SpaceDaily.AFP and UPI Wire Stories are copyright Agence France-Presse and United Press International. ESA PortalReports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additionalcopyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. Advertising does not imply endorsement,agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by SpaceDaily on any Web page published or hosted by SpaceDaily. Privacy Statement