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Virus confirmed in smallmouth bass near Door County – WBAY

DOOR COUNTY, Wis. (WBAY) – The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources has confirmed Largemouth Bass Virus in more than one dozen smallmouth bass found in the bay of Green Bay near Door County.

In September of 2021, 14 smallmouth bass were collected from the water and examined by DNR fisheries staff. They had skin wounds that appeared “red, ulcerated, and varied in size and location.”

The DNR describes the skin lesions as “a cream-colored layer of dead tissue in the center of the wounds.”

“Largemouth bass virus has been found throughout the Eastern United States and previously identified in Wisconsin’s Mississippi River Basin. The virus can cause weakness, abnormal swimming, swimbladder over-inflation, reddening and death in largemouth bass populations,” reads a statement from the DNR.

Since 2008, smallmouth bass with similar conditions were sampled during outbreaks in Lake Michigan and Green Bay. Test results were inconclusive at the time.

The virus is suspected to have caused the lesions, but the DNR says little is known about the virus’s ability to cause disease or death in smallmouth bass.

HOW TO STOP THE SPREAD OF VIRUS AND INVASIVE SPECIES (PROVIDED BY DNR)

  • Drain all water from boats, motors and all equipment.
  • Do not move live fish away from a waterbody.
  • Handle bass as quickly and gently as possible if you intend to release them.
  • Target smallmouth bass during cooler weather to reduce the stress on fish.
  • Refrain from hauling fish in live wells unless fish are to be harvested.
  • Report smallmouth bass with skin lesions and dead or dying fish to local biologists or fish health staff.

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