One Wisconsin bait whole-saler is upset with in-state requirements to test for VHS, because not everyone plays by the same rules.
The bait seller from Grantsburg, who wants to remain anonymous, says out-of-state exporters don't have to abide by the same rules as in-state businesses, and the extra burden on him and fellow wholesalers is putting them out of business.
"Everybody's been under the assumption that when they refer to certifying a load of fish or bait coming into the state, that this certification checks for VHS disease. And as of a couple days ago we just discovered that there is no test that they're doing on this stuff coming in."
The northwestern Wisconsin bait seller says the Ag and DNR departments are testing incoming fish from Minnesota for numerous other diseases, but not for the deadly VHS. But, how does he know that?
"We talked to Dr. Kebus of the Department of Agriculture just yesterday and he said that they are not testing for that."
Donna Gilson of the Ag Department says the man is understandably upset because his livelihood is threatened, but he is mistaken. Gilson says she spoke to Dr. Kebus, who confirmed having a conversation with the bait wholesaler.
"Dr. Kebus said, 'yes I spoke to him and yes I told him they don't need a lab test but I also told him that they aren't susceptible to VHS and that's why we don't require a lab test, and that they still do require a health certification and health assessment which includes a visual examination."
Gilson says about 45 species of fish are tested for VHS, but certain species — like the commonly-used fathead minnows — are not susceptible to VHS, and therefore are not tested. She says it wouldn't make sense.
"You know, it doesn't make economic sense, it doesn't make scientific sense, it would just be an undue expense."
VHS — or viral hemorrhagic septicemia — is a disease that causes fish to bleed to death. It does not pose a health threat to humans. But a spread of the virus to Wisconsin lakes would be devastating to the state's recreational fish industry.