We show that European eels infected with the rhabdovirus EVEX (Eel Virus European X) virus, developed hemorrhage and anemia during simulated migration in large swim tunnels, and died after 1000-1500 km. In contrast, virus-negative animals swam 5500 km, the estimated distance to the spawning ground of the European eel in the Sargasso Sea. Virus-positive eels showed a decline in hematocrit, which was related to the swim distance. Virus-negative eels showed a slightly increased hematocrit. Observed changes in plasma lactate dehydrogenase (LDH), total protein and aspartate aminotransferase (AAT) are indicative of a serious viral infection. Based on these observations, we conclude that eel virus infections may adversely affect the spawning migration of eels, and could be a contributing factor to the worldwide decline of eel.