Monday, April 18, 2011

Chesapeake Bay to Star in Horror Film

Lionsgate to release Levinson's 'Bay' 
...The film chronicles an unprecedented biological disaster unleashed from the waters of the Chesapeake Bay -- an isopod parasite, carrying a horrific untreatable disease, that jumps from fish to human hosts. The true horror and scope of the event unfolds on footage captured on home videos and the Internet by the town's victims, Lionsgate said in a synopsis...
Fish lice on deck of boat
Wow.  So fish do get some really ugly isopod parasites that live on their skin, or in their mouth.  Stripped bass freshly migrated from the ocean often have isopods on their skin and fins.  Hard core striper fishermen don't mind them as they indicate fresh migrants, and the fish are usually fat and healthy.  They often fall off the fish and end up crawling around on the boat after the fish are released or put in the cooler.

Isopod mouth parasite
The mouth parasite is much uglier, and is a little reminiscent of "Alien".  They get about as big as a finger tip and occupy a big part of the mouth.  They are often found in Bluefish, Striped Bass, White Perch or Menhaden. 

However none of these parasites pose any threat to people.  You could probably eat them if you cooked them well.  However, we do have a dangerous disease that you can catch from fish in Chesapeake Bay, Mycobacterium marinum or Mycobacterium chesapeaki (often called Myco for short).  You can get this from the water, but often infections occur after being stuck by a fish spine (striped bass in particular have a set of sharp dorsal spine, which often prick the unwary, and sometimes the wary; I speak from experience).  However, it's a slow growing infection, which can be quite serious, and one that often requires months of treatment.  The majority of striped bass in Chesapeake Bay are infected with Myco, and at this point, we don't fully understand the impact of that on striped bass populations, but it is unlikely to be good.

All of which is a rather long way of getting around to saying there's more than a germ of truth in this horror movie.

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