A deadly Ebola-like virus is killing fish of all types in the Great Lakes, a development some scientists fear could trigger disaster for the USA's freshwater fish.
Because of a lack of genetic resistance to viral hemorrhagic septicemia, fish populations could be damaged in the same way the smallpox virus struck Native Americans and Dutch elm disease decimated elm trees, says Jim Winton, chief of fish health at the U.S. Geological Survey in Seattle.
The disease has been found in Lake Erie, Lake Ontario, Lake Huron, the St. Lawrence Seaway, the Niagara River and an inland lake in New York. The aggressive virus, which causes fish to hemorrhage, was unexpectedly found in the Great Lakes in 2005. Last year, it resulted in large fish kills that struck at least 20 species. Scientists are watching to see whether the disease returns in mid-May when water in the lakes warms to temperatures at which the virus attacks.