Mycobacteriosis in striped bass

Fact Sheet




Mycobacteriosis is a bacterial disease in which striped bass (rockfish) may be disfigured as a result of skin ulcers and internal lesions. The bass may also be skinny or in extremely poor condition due to the chronic nature of this wasting disease. Stripers are a highly prized target species for both recreational anglers and commercial fishermen. As such, the economic impact of diseased and devalued fish could be significant. In addition, some of the mycobacteria that commonly infect fishes can cause infections in people and therefore are a human health concern. The total extent to which the disease is occurring along the Eastern seaboard is unknown but the disease has been reported from stripers taken from North Carolina to New York. During 1998-99, skin ulcers attributed to mycobacterial infection were observed in up to 28% of the striped bass from some Virginia tributaries of the Chesapeake Bay. Data obtained during 2002—2003 from fish harvested in Virginia and Maryland waters indicated that, at least in some areas, over 80% of striped bass may be infected with the mycobacteria that are associated with the disease. Given the persistence over the last 8 years of this mycobacteriosis outbreak, this does not appear to be a short-term problem.

Additional publication details

Publication type:
Publication Subtype:
USGS Unnumbered Series
Mycobacteriosis in striped bass
Series title:
Fact Sheet
Year Published:
U.S. Geological Survey
Publisher location:
Reston, VA
Contributing office(s):
Leetown Science Center
2 p.