HARRISON (AP) – A recent fish kill at a central Michigan lake was caused by a virus responsible for another kill at the lake four years ago, state environmental officials said Tuesday.

A die-off of largemouth and smallmouth bass, bluegills, and pumpkinseed sunfish was reported in April and May at Budd Lake, a 175-acre lake in Clare County. Test results indicated that largemouth and smallmouth bass were positive for viral hemorrhagic septicemia, or VHS.

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“These test results confirm the continued presence of the virus in Budd Lake and reinforces the continued need for anglers and boaters to follow our regulations that are designed to prevent VHS virus from spreading,” acting-Lake Huron Basin Coordinator Todd Grischke said in a statement.

Other results were pending.

To prevent the spread of VHS, anglers and boaters should not move live fish between waters, empty live wells and bilges when leaving a body of water, and disinfect and clean their equipment. New restrictions on handling fish from Budd Lake are unlikely, the state said.

“Boaters on Budd Lake are reminded to carefully dry and disinfect boats and trailers before launching in other waters to minimize the likelihood of spreading the virus,” said Gary Whelan, the fish production manager for the Michigan Department of Natural Resources.

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A similar die-off involving bluegill, black crappie, largemouth bass and muskellunge occurred in the spring of 2007, and VHS was identified in the lake after those deaths. The state says VHS was not detected through 2010 in testing that took place each year.

Budd Lake is one two Michigan inland lakes where VHS has been found. The other is Baseline Lake in Washtenaw County.

Although not dangerous for humans, the virus has caused large fish kills in Lakes Ontario, Erie and Huron. It also has turned up in Lake Michigan and Lake Superior. VHS causes bleeding, bloated abdomens and bulging eyes in fish before finally killing them.

Online: http://www.michigan.gov/dnrfishing

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