VHS Education Inside the Beltway
Great Lakes Sustainable Recreational and Commercial Fisheries - News

OSWEGO, NY, July 20, 2009 - Last month, NYSG's Great Lakes Fisheries Specialist Dave MacNeill and Cornell University researcher Dr. Paul Bowser gave the first "Ralph Rayburn Beltway Brown Bag seminar" of the year in Washington, D.C. on NYSG's proactive research and extension on the VHS issue in the Great Lakes.

VHS (viral hemorrhagic septicemia) is a fish disease affecting muskellunge, round gobies, smallmouth bass, freshwater drum, gizzard shad, among other fish species. The seminar was well-received and attended by both NOAA and USDA colleagues in the DC/Silver Spring area. 

In a newly-funded two-year NYSG study, Bowser and fellow Cornell University investigator Dr. James Casey are examining the transmission process of VHSV, the virus that causes the fish disease, so that better bio-safety protocols and decontamination methods can be developed. “The virus destroys the cells that line various blood vessels in the fish and causes bleeding,” says Bowser. “Bleeding destroys internal organs, such as the heart, liver, spleen and kidneys, and eventually the fish dies.” Over the last several years, significant mortalities have been reported in a number of Great Lakes fish species.

“This research is a perfect example of Sea Grant being on the forefront of an emerging issue and addressing research needs on how this disease is affecting Great Lakes fisheries,” adds MacNeill.

As a follow up to the Beltway seminar, see the June '09 article in The Sun that describes some of the work that NYSG's MacNeill and NYSG Great Lakes Educator Helen Domske are performing in response to the issue of VHSv (the virus that causes the disease). Also, check out "VHS Partnerships," a news item from Sept '09.

— Paul C. Focazio

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