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Fish virus spotted in Northeast Michigan

Flickr User National Fish Habitat Partnership |

A fish virus that hasn’t been spotted in Michigan for 15 years has reappeared in northeast Michigan.


State officials are said largemouth bass virus was the cause of a fish kill in Cedar Lake... that’s in Alcona and Iosco counties.

They said largemouth bass are the only fish that develop the disease, while other species can be carriers.

Martha VanAmberg is a hatchery manager with the Department of Natural Resources. She said it can be hard to tell if a bass is infected by the virus.

“There aren’t very many outward signs other than fish could be dying or dead,” she said. “Or they could be lethargic, just kind of laying at the surface, or swimming slowly, that kind of thing.”   

Although Cedar lake now has this virus as part of its ecosystem, anglers can follow precautions to avoid spreading it to other bodies of water.

“With anything, we’ve learned through the years, make sure you don’t transfer baits, you clean your boats, drain and dry, that’s the thing we promote,” she said. “Just to make sure you don’t move things in between, whether its a fish disease or an invasive species.”   

VanAmberg said only largemouth bass are affected and usually when they’re under high stress but carriers are not.

“So, just like with people, you can carry a cold virus, and if you were healthy and in good condition, you might never get that cold,” she said. “But, if you, had other things going on, that put your body at risk, that’s when those things take over, and the same thing with fish.”

VanAmberg says the virus is not known to affect humans and infected fish should still be safe to eat as long as they’re cooked properly.

In the interest of transparency, The Michigan DNR is a financial supporter of WCMU.