Largemouth bass virus apparently fizzled out

Champaign, Ill. – Largemouth bass virus appears to be a concern
of the past in Illinois.

That’s not to say the virus no longer exists – just that it is
having little or no effect on bass here.

Tony Goldberg, a former researcher and professor at the
University of Illinois who conducted a study of the virus three
years ago, said LMBV was hot for a while but has cooled off
significantly.

“It seems to be another example of a virus that came into a
population, caused some fairly dramatic initial mortality, then
subsided,” Goldberg, now at the University of Wisconsin, said.
“It’s still around – all over the place, in fact – but the
consensus view is that it’s now an established part of the
ecosystem and something that merits watching but not getting worked
up about. That could change, of course, in the face of
environmental changes or other stressors to bass populations.”

Goldberg said he is not aware of any ongoing research on LMBV.
The Illinois study is over and funding for more LMBV research is
basically non-existent.

Goldberg, a former professor of veterinary pathobiology in the
UI College of Veterinary Medicine, and David Philipp, a scientist
with the Illinois State Natural History Survey, launched a
three-year national study on LMBV in 2005. They raised largemouth
bass and exposed them to environmental stressors and to the
virus.

He found that, when active, the virus attacks both sexes and all
ages of largemouth bass.

“Some fish populations experience large-scale fish kills, but
others appear perfectly normal,” he said when launching the
study.

The virus was found in Cedar, Jacksonville, Crab Orchard and Lou
Yaeger lakes and in the Little Grassy and Jake Wolfe hatcheries in
Illinois. Two of the lakes were stocked from the hatcheries. No
bass deaths had been noted in the lakes before the survey.

LMBV is an iridovirus, a family of virus that only affects fish,
amphibians and reptiles. Genetically, it is similar to a pathogen
of aquarium fish from Southeast Asia.

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