KHV Fish Kill in Michigan

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Koi herpesvirus (KHV) is suspected to be the cause of a June 2011 fish kill which involved an estimated 300 to 500 common carp in Michigan. According to Michigan Department of Natural Resources, samples taken from the fish kill in Kent Lake showed presence of koi herpesvirus (KHV), which may have contributed to the fish kill.

“This virus is capable of large-scale common carp die-offs as seen in Ontario in 2007 and 2008,” said Gary Whelan, DNR Fish Production Manager. “The virus is an internationally reportable disease, and it is being officially reported at this time.”

KHV had not been previously found in wild fish samples in Michigan but was detected in a private koi pond near Grand Rapids in 2003.

Identification of KHV in Kent Lake was a joint effort with Michigan State University’s Aquatic Animal Health Laboratory and the USDA-APHIS National Veterinary Services Laboratory in Ames, Iowa.

Laboratory analysis failed to detect spring viremia of carp virus (SVCV), which was originally suspected in the Kent Lake fish kill. The involvement of KHV as a factor in this fish kill is still under investigation.

KHV affects common carp, goldfish and koi. There are no human health effects. The impact of KHV on native minnow species, which are members of the carp family, is not known at this time. KHV disease is found worldwide and likely was introduced to Michigan waters from the release or escape of infected ornamental fish.

“This disease outbreak is another example of why the DNR reminds anglers and boaters that they need to drain bilges and live wells upon leaving a boat launch,” said Jim Dexter, Acting Chief of the DNR’s Fisheries Division. “Anglers should clean their boats, disinfect their gear, and not move live fish, to reduce the possibility of any fish diseases being transferred to new locations.”

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source: Michigan Department of Natural Resources