EMPORIA (KSNT) – The Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks has released the results of a study focused on largemouth bass virus in Kansas lakes.

The study says that LMBV was first found in Crawford State Fishing Lake in 2007, and has since spread to other bodies of water, having a negative impact on largemouth bass populations. In a recent newsletter released by the KDWP, the virus was shown to have caused a ‘catastrophic loss’ of largemouth bass in some lakes.

Fisheries staff from the KDWP’s Research and Survey Office in Emporia began in 2018 to check 25 bodies of water in Kansas that had, in the past, carried healthy largemouth bass populations, along with populations that were seen to be declining in terms of abundance or size, and populations that were previously shown to test positive for LMBV. The study showed that LMBV was present in an additional eight bodies of water where it had not existed previously along with some other key findings:

  • A total of 1,260 largemouth bass were examined throughout the three-year study.
  • Of the 25 bodies of water tested, 14 of them tested positive for LMBV, six of which were already know to contain the virus.
  • There was no evidence of LMBV effects on body condition, relative abundance of quality-length fish or growth rates.

KDWP staff said they were surprised and relieved to learn that there was no evidence of the virus having long-term effects on body condition, the relative abundance of quality-length fish or growth rates in Kansas populations.

“It’s very possible that the acute effects of LMBV have already occurred in some of these impoundments,” Jeff Koch, KDWP Fisheries research supervisor, said. “If that’s the case, that likely means many of these populations have already rebounded and have perhaps even developed some degree of immunity to the virus.”

Koch went on to say that some of Kansas’ best largemouth bass fisheries tested positive for the virus and have not shown evidence of any substantial population-level effects, which is a promising result of the study.

LMBV symptoms are most often seen in bodies of water during the heat of summer or other periods when fish are stressed. The LMBV virus causes fish infected with it to swim in an abnormal way, have open sores or lesions or look sickly or skinny. The virus is lethal in black bass populations but other fish, such as crappie, bluegill, green sunfish and redear sunfish, have been known to carry LMBV.

“Largemouth bass virus is a relatively new disease, so it’s all the more important that we continue to study its range and effects, and add to the scientific community’s body of knowledge,” Vanessa Salazar, KDWP Fisheries biologist, said. “Thanks to the hard work and expertise of many biologists in our division, we’ve been able to accomplish just that.”

The KDWP says that the virus is transmitted in water, so fishers are encouraged to clean, drain and dry their boats and equipment before moving to a new waterbody to help prevent the spread of LMBV and other aquatic pathogens and nuisance species.