Rock County Health Department Provides Viral Haemorrhagic Septicaemia Information

Armen Hareyan's picture

Viral Haemorrhagic Septicaemia

Viral haemorrhagic septicaemia (also know as VHS or VHSv) is a disease of fish that has been known and studied in Europe for many years, but has only recently been found in Wisconsin.


The virus is deadly and contagious to fish, but does not cause health problems in humans or other mammals. Fish that appear healthy when caught can be safely prepared and consumed, even if the fish is contaminated with the virus. However, anglers are reminded that dead or dying fish should not be collected for consumption by people or pets, regardless of the cause. Similarly, if unusual bleeding is first noted in fish organs or meat when cleaning the fish, then that fish should be discarded and hands should be washed. This is a precaution against bacteria, harmful to people, that might attack a fish weakened by VHS.

The DNR has enacted the following emergency rules, effective April 2007, for boaters and anglers: Drain all water from your boat, trailer, bait buckets, coolers, and other containers before you leave the landing or shore fishing site location on Lake Michigan, Lake Superior, the Mississippi River or their tributaries). Do not transport live fish, including bait fish, away from any Great Lakes or Mississippi River drainage landing or shore fishing location. This includes tributaries up to the first dam.

Do not use "cut" or dead bait from other waters (except when fishing in Lake Michigan, Green Bay, or tributaries). Do not use minnows unless they were purchased from a Wisconsin bait dealer or you legally caught the minnows from the place you are fishing.

Draining all water from boats and boating and fishing equipment is strongly recommended after boating or fishing on all Wisconsin waters, as is inspecting your boat and trailer and removing all visible plants and animals. These steps will also help prevent the spread of other diseases and invasive species.