The Wisconsin DNR has released information on dead fish found in Lake Winnebago. They were tested at a lab in La Crosse and indicated a probable outbreak of VHS (viral hemorrhagic septicemia virus), a virus that affects a wide range of fish species.
The virus can affect as many as 50 species of freshwater and marine fish. While there are multiple strains around the world, the late winter and recent weather in the area made conditions favorable for this virus to come about.
Local 5 reported about an industrial fire at AP Nonweiler in Oshkosh on April 23rd which caused the release of titanium dioxide into a channel of Lake Winnebago and at the same time there was also blue-green algae seen along the west shore of Lake Winnebago.
The DNR responded to reports of dead fish in the Fond du Lac area on April 24th. The fish found were sheepshead, common carp, black crappie, yellow perch, largemouth pass and bluegill.
However, in a release on April 25th, DNR biologist said that the fish die off and the release of titanium dioxide were not connected.
On Monday, April 30th, the DNR collected 43 sheepshead an four black crappie from the area South of Asylum Bay near Oshkosh and another 10 sheepshead from the harbor at High Cliff State Park. All these fish were recently dead or dying and were sent to the USFWS lab in La Crosse.
The lab is still searching for other potential pathogens and the full lab report will be available in about four weeks.
The DNR is continuing their investigation into the die off but there are some things anglers can do to stop the spread of VHS. It’s essential that anglers disinfect boats and gear when moving between bodies of water.
The virus is not known to be harmless to humans.
For more information on preventing the spread of invasive species and pathogens, click here.