Imagine a type of Ebola, just for fish. Bulging eyes, hemorrhaging in the muscle tissue and internal organs, and pale organs are some of the clinical symptoms of Viral Hemorrhagic Septicemia (VHS), a deadly fish virus, which was confirmed to be present in Milwaukee waters last month. Since the virus affected thousands of gizzard shad in Lake Michigan, the DNR has been taking steps to prevent the spread of VHS. In addition to restricting bait which may be carriers of the virus, they are also requiring gear to be drained by boaters and anglers upon leaving the water or before entering the state. While VHS hadn't been an issue in Lake Michigan since 2008, assertive steps are being taken to combat it in Wisconsin waters.
This fact page put together by the WDNR has a wealth of information about VHS, and suggestions for preventing its spread are available here. For more information, read the detailed WDNR release, or the Journal Sentinel release. For books on fish and fishing, see our recommended reading list.
Photo credit: from WDNR website, Dr Jim Winton (USGS, Seattle WA), Dr Mohamed Faisal (MSU, Lansing MI) and Dr Paul Bowser (Cornell, Ithaca NY)