Hemorrhagic Septicemia, commonly known Viral Hemorrhagic Septicemia Virus is a viral disease that not only plagues pond fish and aquarium fish but also can spread to other species with the same deadly symptoms. Many times this disease can be mistaken as just a simple injury due to its symptoms, however, as the disease progresses it can spread to everything inside of the same water whether it affects the inhabitant or the inhabitant is just a viral carrier.
Due to the nature in which this viral infection shows itself, it can be almost impossible to identify it at the early stages. However, as the fish starts to become weaker the chances of seeing and being able to fully identify this disease grow greatly. During the early stages of Hemorrhagic Septicemia there are very few symptoms that the fish will show such as sores around the body, the eyes will start to bulge, the fish may appear to be bloated regardless of feeding amount, and/or depending on the species the fish may try to stay away from other inhabitants.
In further stages of the disease is where there will be the visible signs such as open sores around the body, widespread hemorrhages (bleeding through the skin), gills will appear to be pale, internal organs will appear to be pale, fish will swim near the surface of the water, fish may appear to be lifeless, and/or the fish may swim in circles frequently. Sadly in the last stage of the disease, the fish may appear to be fully pale, the body will be fully blood red, eyes may be popped out and more before the disease fully takes over the fish's immune system leading to death.
Hemorrhagic septicemia is one of the few diseases that have no real cause, however, it can spread from one fish to another through various means. These can include but are not limited to the fish-eating an infected fish's poop, rubbing against the fish, eating an infected fish's body after it has died, eating smaller inhabitants that are carrying the disease, the fish breathing through their gills within water that has been contaminated with the blood of a fish who is infected, and also using equipment that the virus has been lying dormant in (such as reusing equipment without cleaning it properly or not cleaning any equipment that has come in contact with this disease). The best way to avoid having any pond or aquarium inhabitants catching this disease is to always quarantine them fully and buy from an aquarium store or dealer that is reputable in having their livestock in great conditions.
Treatment and Medication
Unfortunately, there is no known cure to this viral infection although many have stated that using a bacterial and fungus medication does slow down and can prevent death, there is no known documented proof such medicines do truly work. Since this viral infection plagues many lakes found in different countries, there are many agencies that are still doing tests to find the perfect cure to this virus. If any of your fish do present this viral disease whether they be inside of a pond or aquarium, many agencies will take the dead body to do further analysis on what can prevent this disease and how it fully affects the fish. If you would like to help out to find a cure for this viral disease, please contact your local fish and game agency for instructions on what to do with the fish as it is dying, or if it is already dead.