Deadly fish virus has the potential to devastate entire Lake Winnebago fish population

Following reports confirming that Viral Hemorrhagic Septicemia, or VHS is present in Lake Winnebago, Missouri, more fish from the lake have tested positive for the virus.

According to the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) the virus which causes fish to bleed to death, has been diagnosed in 7 sheepshead fish from Lake Winnebago; according to experts the disease has the potential to devastate the entire fish population.

The state Natural Resources Board has approved a new rule aimed at containing the virus and avoiding further outbreaks which requires fishermen to take precautions aimed at containing the virus.

Officials say VHS has the potential to traverse waters and make its way inland.

The rules demand that bait not be transferred from lake to lake and that fishermen record where bait was purchased.

Bait purchased from different sources must be segregated and the DNR has also suspended its fish stocking and has banned the moving of live fish between lakes.

Fishermen must also drain their boats and bait buckets after fishing in affected waters.

To date the only type of fish effected are Drum fish but there are many other species, including whitefish and salmon, which are susceptible to the virus; the virus is most virulent in spring and fall.

The virus apparently does not pose a danger to humans.

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