DNR Northern Region - Spooner,Wis. - Biologists say conditions are ripe for fish disease outbreaks on lakes in Polk, Barron, Washburn and Burnett counties over the next few weeks. The cause will be a bacteria called ... More... News Release Published: June 2, 2010 by the Northern Region Contact(s): Heath Benike (715) 637-6864, Barron, Polk counties Larry Damman at (715) 635-4089, Washburn and Burnett counties SPOONER – Biologists say conditions are ripe for fish disease outbreaks on lakes in Polk, Barron, Washburn and Burnett counties over the next few weeks. The cause will be a bacteria called Columnaris, which is known to only infect fish species and is not a health risk to humans. “The bacteria is most prevalent in our lakes after water temperatures reach 65-70 degrees from late May to late June,” says Larry Damman, DNR fishery biologist. Bluegill, crappies, yellow perch and bullheads, already stressed from seasonal spawning activities are most affected by the disease. Cold or fluctuating water temperatures during spawning can compound spawning stress and weaken their immune system. Then the bacteria will erode the fishes’ skin, causing leakage of bodily fluids and a fairly rapid death. Although Columnaris can appear to produce large scale fish losses in a matter of several days, it usually does not have a catastrophic impact on overall fish populations, according to fishery biologists. If anglers or landowners have additional questions or see large numbers of other dead fish like carp, largemouth bass, muskie and walleye, they should contact their local DNR fisheries biologist to investigate the problem. For Barron and Polk counties call Heath Benike at (715) 637-6864, and for Washburn and Burnett counties, contact Larry Damman at (715) 635-4089.