Ludington Daily News, Andy Klevorn/AP

Ebola-Like Virus Threatens Great Lakes

June 23, 2008 10:39 AM
by Sarah Amandolare
An Ebola-like virus has sprouted in Lake Michigan, killing fish and threatening the $4 billion commercial and sport fishing industry of the Great Lakes.

30-Second Summary

An Ebola-like virus called viral hemorrhagic septicemia (VHS) has reached Lake Michigan, resulting in “thousands of bloody, hemorrhaging fish,” particularly round gobies, turning up on the shore south of Milwaukee.

Although many prefer that the round gobies, “a small invasive species,” die off, VHS is troubling because it “has led to large fish kills involving more than 30 species, including valuable sport fish such as salmon, trout, walleye, muskie, bass and perch,” according to the Chicago Tribune.

The Great Lakes commercial sport fishing industry is worth $4 billion, but a VHS spread would pose a serious threat. In addition, reported the New Zealand Herald, “the invasion—and the spread of the virus—is fueling an ecological xenophobia,” because VHS is thought to have been brought to the United States on ocean-going ships.

Adding fuel to that fire is the emergence of quagga mussels in the Colorado River. The quagga, which have already overtaken zebra mussels in the Great Lakes, are an invasive Eurasian species that attaches to boating equipment and to each other, causing expensive damage.

Lakes in the Midwest have particularly struggled this spring. In June 2008, the shore of Wisconsin’s Lake Delton gave way, causing a massive water flow over the adjacent roadway into the Wisconsin River. The event is a major blow to tourism in the area.

Headline Links: The scene on the shore

Background: Wipe out potential

Related Topics: U.S. lake woes

Reference: VHS


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