Smallmouth bass in Door Co. test positive for virus, DNR to monitor populations


** FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE **Russell Salisbury admires a smallmouth bass while fishing with Russell Duncan, left, both of Cary, N.C., and Maine guide Sue Hurd, on Big Lake near Grand Lake Stream, Maine, on May 31, 2006. (AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty)

DOOR COUNTY, Wis. (WFRV) – The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) says that smallmouth bass in Door County have tested positive for largemouth bass virus.

According to the DNR, the virus was found in smallmouth bass that were taken from the bay of Green Bay near Door County. Back in Sept. 2021, there were fourteen diseased smallmouth bass that were collected from the waters around Door County.

Those fish were examined by DNR fisheries staff. The collected fish reportedly had skin wounds that appeared red, ulcerated and varied in size and location. The skin lesions often had a cream-colored layer of dead tissue in the center of the wound.

The largemouth bass virus has been found throughout the Eastern United States and has been previously identified in Wisconsin’s Mississippi River Basin. The virus can cause multiple symptoms including:

  • Weakness
  • Abnormal swimming
  • Swimbladder over-inflation
  • Reddening
  • Death in largemouth bass populations

Largemouth bass virus is reportedly not known to infect humans, but the DNR does recommend thoroughly cooking fish and never eating dead or dying fish. Little is definitely known about the virus’ ability to cause disease or death in the species.

The DNR provided some tips to help avoid spreading largemouth bass virus including:

  • 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

More information can be found on the DNR’s website.

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