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The Washington Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratory at Washington State University has confirmed that a recent carp die-off at Lake Havasu is from the Koi Herpes Virus, which also killed carp in Lake Mohave in May, said Arizona Game and Fish biologists.
Koi Herpes Virus (KHV), which can impact carp as water temperatures warm in late spring, impacts gill function and can lead to suffocation and/or secondary infections. While there were bacterial issues as well, the lab tests show KHV as the primary cause of the die-off.
According to health experts, this virus is localized to specific fish species and does not pose a human health risk. However, Game and Fish biologists recommend you avoid handling dead fish or take precautions, such as wearing protective gloves.
“As a common-sense precaution, we also recommend you not fish for carp right now along the lower Colorado River, but instead focus on fishing for other species,” said Russell Engel, the regional fisheries biologist in the Game and Fish Yuma office.
Engel added that this fish virus appears to be working its way down the river. Infected fish that don’t die become carriers of the virus and can spread it to healthy carp. “We suspect it will eventually work its way down to the Yuma area and into canal systems fed by the Colorado River.”