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Prevention is the only defense for VHS, the latest disease attacking fish

US - VHS can kill at least 40 species of fish and 20 of those species live in Colorado, writes Dave Buchanan.

VHS, or viral hemorrhagic septicemia in its long form, is, as its name implies, a virus that attacks freshwater and saltwater fish with apparent impunity. Common in trout hatcheries in Europe and suspected to cause die-offs of Pacific salmon in the Northwest, the disease appeared in 2006 in the Great Lakes in a form not before seen.

It hasn’t been found in Colorado nor any of the adjacent states, but if it’s anything like zebra snails, which recently were found in Pueblo Reservoir, the disease likely can travel faster than prevention can stop it.

And being a virus, the only treatment is prevention, said state fisheries manager Greg Gerlich in a presentation last month to the Colorado Wildlife Commission.

It’s on the radar, he said, meaning the state and Colorado’s private aquaculture industry is doing everything possible to prevent the disease from entering the state.

Google viral hemorrhagic septicemia and you’ll get more than 42,000 hits, a sure sign that someone somewhere is interested in the disease’s progression.