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The disease in LSC muskie has been identified as Piscirickettsia. According to the DNR it's an "intracellular bacteria, part of an emerging group of pathogens in fish."
"Piscirickettsia salmonis was the first of these types of bacteria to be recognized as a pathogenic agent of fish. It infects a wide range of salmonid fish in fish culture situations (fish farms) in North America, South America and Europe. It has not been previously reported from wild fish, muskellunge, or Great Lakes fish, but contacts in Ontario suggest that Servern Sound muskies (Georgian Bay, Lake Huron) may have exhibited similar external lessions since the mid 1990's."
"MDNR workers began to notice red sores/spots on LSC muskie in 2000. Lesions were in the form of raised, reddish, scabby looking sores, often circular in shape, that varied in diameter from 3mm to 2cm." In 2002 the disease was identified as Piscirickettsia. In the spring of 2003, unusual incidents of dead large muskie were reported by anglers on the Detroit River and Lake St. Clair. The DNR is not sure if the disease played any part in the mortality of these muskies.
There are several reasons for concern. The lack of information about the disease and the unclear history of the disease in LSC muskie. Because of the high abundance of muskie on LSC at the present time, a disease outbreak could indicate a stressed population. There are implications the disease could spread to other species in the Great Lakes, particularly salmon.
The DNR is planning to do sample surveys from five areas of LSC in 2003. A maximum of 30 muskie (20 with lesions and 10 without) will be taken from each of the five regions. The areas of the lake the samples are coming from are near the Thames River, Wapole Island, the Shipping Channel, the Clinton River, and Grassy Island. The DNR is also collecting samples at Michigan Ontario Muskie Club events.
Key considerations:
Tissue samples must be collected from live fish;
sampling is lethal;
Laboratory testing requires lead time of several days to prepare cell tissue lines;
and live fish can be held for 24 hours.

Things that WON"T help:
Dropping off dead muskies at the DNR office;
Killing muskies with external lesions.

For more information contact the Mt. Clemens Fisheries Research Station (586) 465-4771
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