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Fish virus hits Great Lakes

The latest invader of the largest freshwater system is spreading to surrounding waters, causing officials to enact emergency rules

Bob Grant
Bob Grant

Bob Grant is Editor in Chief of The Scientist, where he started in 2007 as a Staff Writer.

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A highly contagious and deadly disease that has plagued fish in the Great Lakes for at least two years is ravaging that lake system and has spread to fish in other freshwater lakes and rivers in the region, prompting officials to issue emergency rules and strengthen existing regulations to slow its march.The virus, viral hemorrhagic septicemia virus (VHSV), is not native to the Great Lakes region, so it's hard to predict how damaging it will be to the area's fish, said Rod Getchell, who studies fish diseases at Cornell University's aquatic animal health program. "It's [infecting] naïve hosts, and it's a pathogen that's in a new environment,' he told The Scientist. "That's the scary part. We don't know what kind of effect it's going to have on populations.'Many fish species die soon after being infected with VHSV, but the disease seems particularly virulent in the Great Lakes, where it...

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