DNR investigates contagious fish disease - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

DNR investigates contagious fish disease

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NORTH LIBERTY (KWWL) - The Iowa DNR is investigating a fish kill at Goose Lake in North Liberty.

The Parks Department says on May 26th, they were notified about the dead and dying fish.

The parks department says fish biologist Paul Sleeper from the Iowa DNR determined that the fish were infected with a disease called Flavobacterium Columnare, a common bacterial infection found in many home aquariums.  The disease is also known as Columnaris, Cotton-Wool, Cotton-Mouth, Flexibacter Columnaris, and Mouth Fungus.

According to Iowa DNR fish biologist Paul Sleeper and information obtained from the Georgia State University, Columnare disease is caused by the bacteria Flavobacterium Columnare.  This common bacterial infection may infect many fish species in our ponds which include Bluegill, Catfish, Largemouth Bass and Black Crappies.  It is highly contagious and can spread rapidly.

The bacteria are most prevalent after water temperatures reach 65-70 degrees from late May to late June.  The bacteria levels may increase after major rainfalls that supply additional nutrients to the ponds on which the bacteria thrives.  Fish that are under spring spawning stress are most likely to succumb to the bacterial infection.  After the stress of the spring spawn is over typically the effects of the bacteria are greatly reduced. 

What you might notice during the next few weeks during this time of stress are fish along the shoreline either dead or alive partially covered with a white film or white spots.  It is observed mainly on the head but also is seen as fuzz on the fins and gills.  The body of the fish may become ulcerated and the fins frayed.

Although Flavobacterium Columnare can appear to produce large scale fish losses in a matter of several days, it usually does not have a catastrophic impact on overall fish populations, according to Iowa DNR fish biologist Paul Sleeper.  This is a naturally occurring event and Sleeper said we should let nature run its course.

Guy Goldsmith is the superintendent of North Liberty Parks/Buildings/Grounds. 
He says there is no health risk to humans.  Humans are not a host to this fish disease and fish that are caught may be touched, cooked and eaten as normal.

Currently the Parks Department is monitoring the fish at all City ponds and have picked up and disposed of dead fish.  Goose Lake has been hit the hardest but all ponds in town have shown signs of the disease.

Online producer:  Adam Amdor

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