Mussel die-offs may be linked to mystery virus

An unknown virus may play a role in the massive death of freshwater mussels in recent years. Jordan Richard, a biologist with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the University of Wisconsin, has spent years searching for an explanation for the mysterious die-offs that have killed thousands of mussels from Washington to Virginia. The New York Times reports that the research group used genetic testing to identify viruses in both healthy and diseased mussels. They found one novel virus that was 11 times more likely to be present in sick mussels. More than 70 percent of North America’s freshwater mussels have been driven to endangerment or extinction.

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