Biologists ID Virus Behind Blue Springs Lake Carp Die-Off

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Officials say that they have identified the culprit behind a massive carp die-off last month at Blue Springs Lake.

According to the Missouri Department of Conservation,  the koi herpesvirus (KHV) killed approximately 16,000 carp at the Jackson County lake – or about 75 percent of the carp in the lake.

Officials say that KHV is named for koi, a fish commonly kept in aquariums and aquaculture. Koi are ornamental varieties of common carp that have been bred for varying colors and fin shapes. KHV most commonly occurs in hatchery operations with large numbers of fish.

The virus affects only the common carp species but goldfish can be carriers without showing symptoms of the virus. The virus can not be transmitted to humans, officials said.

Fish biologists say that carp are an exotic, invasive species in Missouri, and that popular native fish such as largemouth bass, bluegill, crappie and catfish should actually benefit due to less competition for food and less habitat destruction by carp.

Biologists say that the virus has a short incubation period, spreads rapidly from fish to fish, but is only lethal to common carp. There is no treatment for this disease. The virus is fairly well established in North America. Similar outbreaks have occurred in Michigan, New York, Indiana, California, Ontario and Arizona.

The virus could have been introduced by someone dumping unwanted bait, koi or goldfish into the lake, officials said.

Officials with the Department of Conservation say that the large population of carp at Blue Springs Lake, in combination with ideal water temperatures, led to the die-off.

Conservation officials say that the lake remains safe for fishing, boating and swimming.

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