Science

Potentially harmful bacteria found in Potomac snakehead fish

In this Jan. 18, 2014 photo, an endangered female orca leaps from the water while breaching in Puget Sound west of Seattle, as seen from a federal research vessel that had been tracking the whales. The orca is from the J pod, one of three groups of southern resident killer whales that frequent the inland waters of Washington state. NOAA is issuing permits to the U.S. Navy, which wants to expand sonar and other training exercises off the West Coast but needs authorization because of the potential to harm marine mammals. Critics say more sonar-emitting buoys would harm whales and other marine creatures. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

In this Jan. 18, 2014 photo, an endangered female orca leaps from the water while breaching in Puget Sound west of Seattle, as seen from a federal research vessel that had been tracking the whales. The orca is from the J pod, one of three groups of southern resident killer whales that frequent the inland waters of Washington state. NOAA is issuing permits to the U.S. Navy, which wants to expand sonar and other training exercises off the West Coast but needs authorization because of the potential to harm marine mammals. Critics say more sonar-emitting buoys would harm whales and other marine creatures. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

RESTON, Va. (AP) — Scientists say the invasive northern snakehead fish carries bacteria that could harm other creatures.

The U.S. Geological Survey says some snakeheads caught in Virginia waters of the Potomac River south of Washington were infected with an unknown species of mycobacteria.

Mycobacteria can cause chronic disease in a variety of animals, including mammals. But Virginia state fisheries biologist John Odenkirk said Thursday there is no indication of a health risk to people who eat infected snakeheads that have been cooked.

USGS veterinarian Christine Densmore says more research is needed to determine the potential effects of the bacteria on the snakehead population and other species.

The predatory fish can breathe air and survive on land. They’ve been reported in at least nine states since they were discovered in California in 1977.

 

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