Largemouth bass virus found at Missouri reservoirs

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February 26, 2002.

Bass virus shows up at Lake of the Ozarks

Disease debilitates fish, has no effect on consumption

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - A disease that affects largemouth bass has spread to several of Missouri's most popular fishing lakes, the state Conservation Department said.

Largemouth Bass Virus first was detected in Missouri in 1999 at Table Rock Lake.

But tests conducted last year show it has spread to Bull Shoals Lake, Lake of the Ozarks, Lake Springfield, Norfork Lake, Truman Reservoir and Wappapello Lake.

Signs of the virus include otherwise healthy looking, big bass floundering at the water's surface and swimming poorly. The only sign of the virus inside the bass is inflammation or scabs inside the swimbladder.

The virus poses no problem to people eating fish.

''Unfortunately, when a virus or other parasite impacts a fishery in a body of water the size of the Lake of the Ozarks, all that can be done is to let it run its course,'' said Norm Stucky, administrator of the Conservation Department's Fisheries Division.

The virus is believed to have originated in the Southeast.

It may have entered Missouri through the illegal stocking of infected fish or through contaminated boats, the Conservation Department said.

Bass testing positive for the virus may not get the disease. It is unknown how the virus kills fish.

''So far, the effects of the virus on bass appear to be short-term,'' Stucky said. ''We see the population recover in two or three years. We also don't see multiple kills from the virus.''
 

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