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Environment & Climate Change

Koi herpesvirus shows up in wild Michigan fish

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Photo by Flickr user: eye of einstein
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Koi are susceptible to koi herpesvirus, and so are carp and goldfish. Officials want to study whether native Michigan fish, such as minnows, are also at risk.

State officials say they’ve discovered a virus for the first time in wild fish in Michigan. It’s called koi herpesvirus.

Gary Whelan is with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources.

He says the virus might have contributed to the death of several hundred common carp in Kent Lake last June. Whelan says the virus is known to affect common carp, goldfish and koi. And it can be fatal.

He says this same virus led to die-offs of several thousand carp in Ontario a few years ago.

“They had thousands of large adult dead carp floating up on people’s front yards, so that’s not a good situation to be in.”

Michigan officials are investigating whether the virus could affect native fish, such as minnows.

Gary Whelan says koi herpesvirus was previously detected eight years ago in a private koi pond in Grand Rapids.

He says this virus could’ve turned up in Kent Lake after someone released an infected fish into the lake.

“You know it's probably somebody dumped their goldfish that was infected or maybe a carp escaped out of a pond during a flood period.”

Whelan says it’s illegal to move live fish from one body of water to another, and it’s just a bad idea.

He says the virus does not cause any health effects in people.