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Snakeheads in Potomac contract virus that threatens largemouth bass

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Northern snakeheads in the Potomac River have apparently contracted a virus that is known to cause massive kills among largemouth bass, the U.S. Geological Survey announced Tuesday.

But that doesn’t mean the pathogen, known as largemouth bass virus, will negatively affect snakeheads, an invasive, predatory fish species from Asia. Snakeheads pulled from two Potomac tributaries in Virginia by biologists were healthy, despite carrying the virus.

But the virus could make the snakehead more dangerous to bass, said Luke Iwanowicz, a USGS research biologist who led the study of the fish, published recently in the Journal of Aquatic Animal Health.

Iwanowicz said it is possible that snakeheads could be reservoirs of the virus and pass it to bass throughout the Chesapeake Bay watershed.
 
 

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