Md. Officials Say Rockfish Are Safe to Eat, Despite Disease - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Md. Officials Say Rockfish Are Safe to Eat, Despite Disease


UNDATED (WBOC/AP)- Officials at four Maryland government agencies insist rockfish caught in the Chesapeake Bay are safe to eat, despite a published report about a bacterial infection that is harming the fish.

The Washington Post reported last week that nearly three-quarters of the rockfish in the Chesapeake Bay have mycobacteriosis, a disease that causes lesions on the fish and can cause skin infections in people who touch them.

But the Maryland Departments of Natural Resources (DNR), Environment (MDE), Health and Mental Hygiene (DHMH) and Agriculture (MDA) all say the fish, also known as striped bass, are safe to eat when thoroughly cooked, and continue to advise the public not to eat uncooked rockfish.

"Fish that appear to be healthy and are properly prepared and cooked are safe to eat," said DHMH Secretary S. Anthony McCann.  "You should discard any fish with open, reddened lesions on the body or those with signs of hemorrhage or darkened patches in the fillets."

Health officials also verified that people who have contact with striped bass through fishing, transportation or preparation of food dishes should not be overly concerned with mycobacteriosis infections if they follow basic hygiene precautions, including hand-washing.

DNR officials say that historically, mycobacteriosis has not significantly impacted the level of striped bass populations in the Chesapeake Bay and does not presented a public health concern. Yet, scientists remain concerned for the potential long-term impacts to the species.

In May, the USGS National Fish Health Research Laboratory and NOAA’s Cooperative Oxford Laboratory are convening a workshop of scientists and managers engaged in the issue to discuss the current status of mycobacteriosis and prioritize and coordinate future research efforts.




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