With fishing season here and all the fish to be caught it is important to educate yourself on potential diseases or parasites your catch may have. What should you do if your fish has a disease? Is it still safe to eat? What should you do to help prevent the spread of the disease? These are all very viable questions that are asked regarding these diseased fish. I have compiled a list of 4 common diseases found among game fish and what the side effects and precautions are when it comes to them..
Lymphosarcoma- This is a viral disease that is passed between fish through physical contact. It appears as cauliflower like growths that may be grayish white or blood red. In severe cases of infection it is fatal. However many fish live with the disease making it a possibility that they will be caught by anglers. Experts are on the fence about whether it is safe to eat these diseased fish. They are not sure what the effects would be on humans and recommend that you do not consume it. Mainly this disease is found in Northern Pike or Muskie.
Viral Hemorrhagic Septicemia(VHS)- This viral disease has such a long name it is most commonly referred to as VHS. It affects a wide variety of fish types, a few being white bass, common carp, rock bass. Because it is so easily spread it can cause a mass fatality among fish. It is spread when fish change and move through different bodies of water. It is seen in fish as hemorrhages from the eyes, skin, and fin. But it also is very common to have internal bleeding which can not be seen with the eye. Although it sounds awful experts say that eating a fish with this disease has no effect on humans what so ever and it safe to eat.
Lymphocystis- This is another viral infection and affects a wide variety of both fresh and saltwater swimmers. It can cause severe infections in fish which causes organ damage and is fatal. However most fish survive and live with symptoms that include, warts or a fungus like growth on their skin. It is prime time right now to find this disease in waters because the peak time of infection is late winter, early spring. Although experts say it is safe to eat they recommend cooking it thoroughly before consumption.
Bass Tapeworm- By far one of the most disgusting of parasites, this tapeworm is found in both Large and Small Mouthed Bass. It is horrific the way this nasty parasite can spread, which is through the infected fishes waste products. Where it is developed in crustaceans and other fish it is only able to fully develop when introduced to the Bass. The tapeworms fester inside and can cause a pot belly like appearance on the fish. In severe cases the worms can damage the fish’s reproductive organs, spleen and liver which eventually kills them. Experts say it is safe to eat when cooked thoroughly, but I don’t know how many of us would be able to get past the worms that live within the fish.
In general it is common to come across a diseased fish. However we just urge you to be safe when handling them, making sure to either cook them thoroughly, clean infected areas and surfaces, or stay away from consuming the fish in general. Is is always best to be as knowledgeable as possible when it comes to these diseases, as to not cause harm to you or the people you may share your catch with. As always we wish you happy and fruitful fishing season! If you should be fishing around in Willamette Valley stop in and see us!