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Deadly Fish Virus Spreads in New York State

US - A deadly, fast-spreading virus is affecting freshwater fish in several lakes in New York state. In the past, the fish virus had a catastrophic impact on fish populations in Europe, Japan, and the U.S. Pacific northwest.

Victoria Cavaliere reports from VOA's New York bureau that state officials are examining the environmental and economic impact of the virus.

Hemorrhagic septicemia virus, or VHS, causes internal bleeding in affected fish but poses no danger to humans. The disease spreads rapidly among fish by direct contact. There are four strains of the virus: three found in Europe and one in North America.

VHS has long been a problem among commercially raised rainbow trout in Europe. The U.S. Geological Survey says millions of trout have died in the past decade, costing Europe's fishing industry about 40-million dollars a year.

Outbreaks have also affected salmon and herring in Japan and other parts of the Pacific, including the U.S. northwest.

Doug Stang is chief of New York State's Bureau of Fisheries. He explains why VHS is spreading widely and rapidly. "One of the troubling things with regard to VHS is that there are many fish species and fish families that VHS impacts. VHS has been found to affect worldwide 37 different species. We don't think that there are any species or families that are not susceptible to VHS," he said.

In 2005, scientists were alarmed to find that VHS had moved from its normal marine habitat into the fresh water fish populations of the U.S. Great Lake regions.

Source: VOA News

Further Information

For more information, view the Viral Haemorrhagic Septicaemia Fact Sheet.