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NC Department of Health and Human Services
NC Division of Public Health
N.C. Public Health Home

Occupational & Environmental Epidemiology

Fish Kills

If you see a fish kill (the sudden death of large numbers of fish, usually in a restricted area) in which more than a few fish or shellfish are dead, dying, acting erratically or have sores, follow these common-sense precautions:

  • Stay away from these waters while those conditions exist. Don't go into the water.
  • Do not eat, use or collect any fish, crabs, other animals or items from these waters.
  • Do not let pets swim in or eat fish from these waters.

If you come in contact with the water where fish or shellfish are dead, dying, appear sick, or have sores:

  • Remove wet clothing and keep separate from other items until it has been washed.
  • Wash any body part (except the eyes) that comes into contact with the waters, using soap and clean water. Rinse eyes with lots of clear, clean water.
  • Use waterproof gloves when handling pets and items that have come into contact with the waters.
  • See your doctor or health provider if you experience any symptoms (e.g., confusion, vomiting, diarrhea) that might be caused by exposure to these waters.

A list of fish kills, updated weekly from June to October, is posted on the N.C. Division of Water Quality website.

For Additional Information