Fish dying in Winnebago County's Lake Summerset and other Illino - WREX.com – Rockford’s News Leader

Fish dying in Winnebago County's Lake Summerset and other Illinois lakes

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Dead fish are turning up everyday one Winnebago County lake. The Illinois Department of Natural Resources says carp are dying in Lake Summerset by the thousands. They say people do need to be careful, not just in the lakes, but also with their boats.

Two weeks ago the Lake Summerset Association say they pulled 400 dead carp from the lake.

"For some reason, a virus, a carp virus that is specific to carp has struck," says Ken Clodfelter, fish biologist at the IDNR.

Biologists with the IDNR were called in. They are not sure how the fish got the virus but say more than likely it was something already in the water. Normally the fish would fight off.  But because stress factors, the fish are dying from it.

"We've had a below average temperatures these summer so some of these carp may have held off in spawning and that stresses them and they are kind of a group spawner so all of a sudden they are together. It's kind of like a kid with a running nose in a classroom it's easier to pass it on when they are all together," Clodfelter says.

There are an estimated 7,000 to 10,000 carp in Lake Summerset. Biologist say this virus could wipe out as much as 80 perfect of them. 
It's one of four lakes IDNR officials say the virus has been found in. They say it is still okay to boat in the lake but swimming near a lot of dead fish is not advised.

"You may not want to expose that much skin or swimming during that time when the bacteria counts are up but you can still use the lake," Clodfelter says.

They say boaters need to be careful, too. They can unknowingly carry the virus from one lake to another if they don't clean off their boat.

 The Lake Summerset Association says they are picking up the dead fish daily to limit any bacteria build up. The IDNR says the virus usually lasts in fish for only a few weeks. 

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