Protect our Fish! Help Prevent the Spread of VHS
Viral Hemorrhagic Septicemia (VHS) is an infectious fish disease that is in the Thames River. Boaters and anglers can help prevent the spread of this virus.
How does VHS spread?
VHS can spread through the water, on infected fish, or with their body fluids. VHS may be spread from one water body to the next by any method that involves the movement of fish, water, vessels or equipment that has had contact with the virus. VHS disease outbreaks may happen at any time, but are most likely during the spring as temperatures fluctuate and fish are reproducing.
Where is VHS found?
VHS is in Lakes Ontario, Erie, St. Clair, and Huron (including Georgian Bay), Lake Simcoe, and tributaries of these lakes up to the first impassable barrier.
VHS is in the Thames River and its tributaries, from Lighthouse Cove (mouth of the Thames on Lake St. Clair) upstream to barriers in and around the City of London (Fanshawe Dam on North Thames River, Hunt Dam on South Thames River, Arva Mill Dam on Medway Creek). All tributaries downstream of these barriers are assumed to be VHS positive.
How to identify VHS
Infected fish may show the following signs:
- • pale gills and organs
• bloated abdomen
• bulging eyes
• hemorrhages (bleeding) on body and organs
• darker body colour
Some fish show no signs of infection.
People and VHS
VHS is not a risk to human health. The virus does not affect humans, and fish carrying VHS are safe to eat and handle. However, it is never wise for people or pets to consume or handle fish that look sick, or fish that are dying or dead.
How anglers & boaters can help
- • Dump your bait container at least 30 metres from any lake, pond, river or stream
• When cleaning fish, dispose of fish waste, heads and tails in the garbage, not waterways
• Put unwanted roe or baitfish in the garbage
• Empty livewells and bilges away from water, where the water will be absorbed into the ground
Don’t move fish
- • Use locally harvested baitfish and roe
• Ask bait dealers where they got their supply to ensure they’re buying locally
- • Remove mud, aquatic plants and animals from gear, boat motors and trailers before you go home
- • After fishing in a waterbody known to contain VHS:
• Clean and disinfect livewells with a 10% household bleach/water solution (e.g., 100 ml of household bleach to 900 ml of water)
• Empty all water 30 m from any waterbody