The Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR) confirmed the Koi Herpes Virus (KHV) is the reason behind the fish kill at Storm Lake. The fish kill consisted of thousands of young common carp. This case is the first time that the Koi Herpes Virus (KGV) was detected in the state of Iowa. There have been previous outbreaks detected and confirmed in other states such as Minnesota and Wisconsin. It has to be noted that no instances of the virus infecting humans or other species of fish has ever been observed.
“We have collected live, healthy fish from 13 different species in Storm Lake to be tested to confirm that the virus is not spreading to other species,” said Ben Wallace, DNR fisheries biologist.
The Koi Herpes Virus is highly contagious and deadly among carp. It works by attacking the carp’s gills and can produce lesions on the bodies of the fish. The virus is unlikely to eliminate the entire Storm Lake carp population though.
“The common carp spawning created the perfect conditions to spread the disease with fish making direct contact with each other all over the lake,” explains Wallace. “The virus could have been here a long time within the adult population with many having some level of immunity to the virus and were asymptomatic.”
The afflicted young common carp began to die and wash ashore in recent weeks. Thousands of dead carp have been found along the shore of Storm Lake.
“Scavenging animals and decomposition should take care of the dead fish fairly quickly,” said Wallace. “The best way Storm Lake users can help is to push the dead fish back into the water. Make sure you wear gloves when you handle the fish.”
So while the fish kill may stink up the shore of Storm Lake, there is no other big threat to the lake.