PROTECT OUR LAKE
Dealing with VHS - Viral Hemorrhagic Septicemia virus
By Rob Vollkommer; LMEC Chairman
A deadly new fish virus, Hemorrhagic Septicemia virus (VHS) that caused huge fish kills in several eastern Great Lakes in 2005 and 2006 is likely already in Lake Michigan, Lake Superior and the Mississippi River. Its presence in northeastern Wisconsin's Little Lake Butte des Morts was announced May 12 by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. Additional sampling has also preliminarily confirmed the virus' presence in Lake Winnebago, Wisconsin. We need your help to ensure this virus doesn't spread to Lake Galena.
Viral Hemorrhagic Septicemia is not a threat to people who handle infected fish or want to eat their catch, but it can kill more than 25 fish species including walleye, bluegills, bass, perch, and muskie. To prevent its spread the WDNR is implementing new emergency rules prohibiting boaters and anglers from moving water and live fish, including minnows, from one water body to another. These include many of the same actions WDNR has long asked people to take to avoid introducing invasive plants and animals to new waters.
Recommendations for anglers and boaters
to keep our lake healthy
The state of Wisconsin has implemented the following emergency rules effective April 2007 and amended May 17. Your LMEC Committee strongly recommends every boater and angler adopt these emergency measures to protect our lake.
• Drain all water from your boat, trailer, bait buckets, coolers, and other containers before you leave the landing or shore fishing site. Do not introduce any water from another lake or river into Lake Galena.
• Inspect your boat and trailer and remove all visible plants and animals. Wash all fishing equipment. These steps will also help prevent the spread of diseases and invasive species into Lake Galena.
• Do not use "cut" or dead bait from any other waters.
• Do not use minnows unless they were purchased from our marina. Staff has required our minnow supplier to test to assure all minnows sold are virus free.
VHS is not a public health threat – people can still keep and eat the fish they catch – but it can kill a broad range of native fish.
For additional information, please refer to the Wisconsin DNR website
Wisconsin DNR Website
Viral Hemorrhagic Septicemia (VHS) Frequently Asked Questions
What is Viral Hemorrhagic Septicemia (VHS)?
VHS is an infectious viral disease that can infect more than 37 species of fish. It has been detected within the Great Lakes system and has caused large-scale wild fish kills. Most recently, VHS was detected in the Lake Winnebago system in Wisconsin. According to the USDA, all the species of fish within Lake Galena are susceptible to this virus. This disease DOES NOT pose a threat to people.
What does VHS do and what are potential symptoms?
The virus causes blood vessels within fish to weaken, which leads to internal or external hemorrhaging. The fish ultimately die from internal bleeding or organ failure. External symptoms of VHS include hemorrhaging in the eyes, skin, gills, or the base of fins; bulging eyes; bloated abdomens; inactive or overactive behavior. Many of these external symptoms can be the result of other diseases, so testing is required to confirm if the fish has VHS.
What is the history of VHS and how did it arrive in North America?
VHS was discovered first in Europe, seriously affecting freshwater-reared rainbow trout and researches are unsure how the virus arrived in North America. Until 2005, the virus was only found in marine, or saltwater, environments in North America. According to the University of Wisconsin Sea Grant Institute, it is unclear how the virus spread to the Great Lakes, but it is thought that the VHS virus evolved to adapt to freshwater. It was first detected in Lake St. Clair in 2003 and has been confirmed in Lake Ontario, Lake Erie, and the St. Lawrence River. Earlier in 2007, the disease was confirmed in Lake Huron, in the Lake Winnebago system in Wisconsin, and one fish has tested positive in Lake Michigan (near Kewaunee / Algoma, WI).
How is the Illinois DNR responding to the threat of VHS and is there a course of action in place if VHS is found in Illinois?
The GTA is currently waiting for the DNR Fish Pathologist to return our phone call. This question will be answered as soon as information is available.
How is the Galena Territory Association responding to the threat of VHS?
The Galena Territory Association (GTA) is raising public awareness of VHS and informing boaters, particularly our trailered boat owners, of the threat of moving boats between infected waters and Lake Galena. GTA is prohibiting the use of live bait or cut bait brought in from other sources. The minnows that are sold at the Marina are tested and certified virus-free. Night crawlers or other worms do not pose a threat and will be permitted. GTA is installing a gate at the boat ramp to allow Marina Staff and Security the opportunity to check boats prior to entering Lake Galena via the boat ramp. Staff members will be checking to see if on-board water has been drained from the bilge, live well, coolers, and motors; will ask property owners where they have purchased or acquired their bait and where your boat has been stored. Before we install a boat cleaning / disinfection station at the marina, only boats carrying no onboard water will be permitted to launch.
Why is the GTA taking these actions now and how long will they continue?
The GTA is being proactive to limit the potential risks of VHS entering Lake Galena. Since all of the species that are presently living in Lake Galena are susceptible to this disease, it is imperative that we act quickly and put the necessary precautions into place as soon as possible. These actions will continue as long as necessary to keep our Lake as healthy as possible.
The GTA is asking for your understanding and cooperation so that our Lake may be enjoyed by all property owners and their guests.
What are the potential consequences of these actions?
The immediate consequence foreseen at this point is that there may be a longer waiting period prior to entering or leaving Lake Galena with a trailered boat. If boat owners do not cooperate with our requests, other potential consequences include minimizing the use of a trailered boat on Lake Galena or even to shut down Lake Galena to trailered boats. Boats that are currently docked within the Lake are permitted to stay and continue recreational activities on the Lake. The ultimate consequence is that the fish within Lake Galena will be infected with this virus, causing large-scale die offs of our fish population. To ensure your enjoyment of the Lake, the GTA asks for your cooperation and patience while we are implementing this new procedure.
How can I help prevent the spread of VHS into Lake Galena?
Empty Live Wells, Coolers, Bilges, and Motors before leaving another Lake or water body.
Rinse boat so that is free of mud, plant particles, or water from another source.
Dry your boat for 3-4 days prior to entering Lake Galena or rinse Live Wells, Coolers, and Bilges with a diluted bleach solution.
Do not carry live or cut bait from an outside source onto Lake Galena.
What can I do if I suspect that there are fish dying from VHS in Lake Galena?
Contact the Owner’s Club (815/ 777-2000), Marina Staff (815/ 777-2012), or Security (815/ 266-6251) right away.
Contact the Illinois DNR: Larry Willis (309/ 968-7531 ext. 235) or Steven Schultz (618/ 435-8138 ext. 123)
Where can I get additional information about VHS?
Wisconsin DNR website: http://dnr.wi.gov/fish/pages/vhs.html
US Department of Agriculture (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) VHS page: http://www.aphis.usda.gov/newsroom/hot_issues/vhs/vhs.shtml
USDA Emerging Disease Notice, July 2006:
VHS Federal Order Q & A:
The GTA appreciates your understanding, patience, and cooperation as we learn together how to protect Lake Galena from VHS. The consequences of insufficient actions will adversely affect us all.
For questions or concerns, please contact Emily Lubcke, Greenspace and Lake Manager,
at the Owner’s Club: 815/ 777-2000