Ranavirus found in snakeheads in Potomac River tributaries

File photo: Wikimedia Commons

A lethal virus that can cause disease in the largemouth bass population has been found in snakeheads in two Potomac River tributaries in Virginia, the United States Geological Survey says.

Dubbed Ranavirus, or the largemouth bass virus, the pathogen has been found in snakeheads that were removed from two Chesapeake Bay waterways.

While USGS officials say the virus can be found in a number of fish species, only largemouth bass can get sick from Ranavirus.

Officials do know exactly know what effect the virus will have on the long-term health and population levels of the bass. Bass that are infected are unable to submerge and force them to float on the water's surface, making breathing difficult.

In the past, other populations of largemouth bass that have been infected with largemouth bass virus have ben subject to fish kills.

The findings of a study on Ranavirus were published this past April in the Journal of Aquatic Animal Health.