Annette Hacker, director,
Office: (515) 294-4777
Glenda Dvorak, Center for Food Security and Public Health, (515) 294-9300, firstname.lastname@example.org
Dan Kuester, News Service, (515) 294-0704, email@example.com
Fish health, boaters, anglers are focus of new Web site
AMES, Iowa -- As a new disease continues infecting more and more sport fish in the upper Midwest, the U.S. Department of Agriculture is trying to get information to boaters and anglers on how they can help slow and stop the spread.
Iowa State University's Center for Food Security and Public Health, working with the USDA, has launched a new Web site with information for anyone using waterways in the Great Lakes region of the country.
The site, www.FocusOnFishHealth.org, explains how outdoors enthusiasts can help minimize the chances of spreading the disease Viral Hemorrhagic Septicemia (VHS).
"Our primary goal in setting up this Web site is to educate boaters and anglers," said Dr. Glenda Dvorak, associate director of the center, part of ISU's College of Veterinary Medicine. "It's the result of an educational alliance between many groups involved in fisheries and aquaculture -- state and federal agencies, universities, extension and industry associations."
VHS has caused fish die-offs in recreational and sport fish species such as smallmouth bass, yellow perch and muskellunge, as well as a number of baitfish. The virus primarily spreads to new locations by the movement of infected fish or water contaminated by them.
Sports fishermen should be eager to help stop the spread of the disease because the fish that are affected are the same fish that anglers typically target, according to Dvorak.
VHS has not been found in aquaculture facilities in the United States. Fish infected with VHS do not pose a health risk to humans.
The FocusOnFishHealth.org Web site also serves as a clearinghouse for VHS resources. Extension specialists, educators and researchers can view information developed by their colleagues and download the latest information about VHS. Visitors can submit information to the site.
"The site provides links to state and federal VHS regulations, especially restrictions on baitfish use and fish movement, so sportsmen can find rules or restrictions in their own area and neighboring states," said Dvorak.
Maps on the site show where VHS has been detected. The disease has been reported in all of the Great Lakes --except Lake Superior -- and a few inland lakes.
"We're trying to keep the disease out of areas, states and aquaculture facilities where it has not yet been detected," said Dvorak.
In the future, based on stakeholder input and support, as well as available funding, the site could offer information on other aspects of fish health.
Right now the urgency is on getting information to boaters and anglers about VHS before the sporting season begins, according to Dvorak.
A new Web site is focused on explaining how outdoors enthusiasts can help minimize the chances of spreading the disease Viral Hemorrhagic Septicemia (VHS).
Our primary goal in setting up this Web site is to educate boaters and anglers.
Dr. Glenda Dvorak