Wildlife officials are raising the alarm about infected walleye in Colorado.

According to a press release from Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW), the agency has confirmed that a walleye caught in Lake Pueblo State Park last fall was suffering from myofibrogranuloma, or Sandy Flesh disease, a rare degenerative muscle disease.

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CPW said that while officials don't think humans can catch the disease, no one should consume infected walleye. Walleyes with Sandy Flesh disease appear normal on the outside — so how can you recognize an infected fish?

The agency reports that, when cleaned, a sick walleye will have semi-translucent knotted muscle fibers that look like freezer-burned meat.

Colorado Parks and Wildlife
Colorado Parks and Wildlife

CPW asks that anglers use caution when fishing and report any infected fish for analysis at its Aquatic Animal Health Laboratory.

The release noted that although Sandy Flesh disease is somewhat common in areas of the Midwest, this is its first occurrence in Colorado. However, officials aren't overly concerned about the disease's effect on the Centennial State.

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"It's not a shock that it has reached Colorado since it occurs in so many neighboring states, but it is unfortunate," said Carrie Tucker, an aquatic biologist with CPW, in the release. "We don't expect it to have a big impact because it typically only shows up in a smaller number of older walleye."

Regardless, CPW is stressing the importance of reporting any infected fish. The agency is also cautioning anglers not to return infected walleye to the water — instead, throw the fish away or bury it.

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