Experts Fear Spread of Viral Fish Disease

RESTON, Va., Feb. 3 (UPI) — A U.S. study shows a disinfection solution used for salmon eggs also prevents transmission of the virus that causes viral hemorrhagic septicemia.

VHS disease is one of the most dangerous viral diseases of fish, U.S. Geological Survey scientists said, causing large fish kills in U.S. wild fish, especially in the Great Lakes region. Although not harmful to humans, the virus has been found in more than 25 species of fish in Lakes Michigan, Huron, Erie, St. Clair, Superior and Ontario, as well as the Saint Lawrence River and inland lakes in New York, Michigan and Wisconsin.

USGS researcher Mark Gaikowski said experts fear the disease might spread from the Great Lakes into new populations of native fish in the 31 states of the Mississippi River basin.

The USGS and the Fish and Wildlife Service tested the effectiveness of iodophor disinfection in walleye and northern pike eggs and found it eliminated active virus from fertilized eggs.

“Iodophor disinfectant solutions contain iodine formulated for use on fish eggs,” the USGS said, adding although some disinfection treatments reduced hatch, iodophor treatment at 90 minutes after fertilization did not alter egg hatch or fry development.

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