Testing by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service shows some 1,500 fish at Stonewall Jackson Lake died of a common panfish ailment called columnaris disease.

Division of Natural Resources biologist Kevin Yokum said Thursday the disease starts with a naturally occurring bacterium found in most lakes.

It can cause problems when fish come under stress that can be caused by things such as spawning or a change in water temperature.

Most of the fish killed at Stonewall Jackson were crappie that had brown lesions on their flesh.

Yokum says they're still safe to eat, as long as the fish are prepared and cooked properly.

Columnaris disease is usually related to a single species, but Yokum says it can sometimes affect other species.

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