In an attempt to reduce the chances of anglers spreading koi herpesvirus (KHV) to other bodies of water, the state Natural Resources Commission (NRC) is looking to add Kent Lake to a list of inland waters closed to the taking of minnows for either personal or commercial use.
Earlier this year, Kent Lake — which is located in Livingston and Oakland counties — was the site of a confirmed outbreak of KHV that resulted in the death of between 300 and 500 carp. It was the first confirmed wild occurrence of this disease in Michigan, according to the NRC.
KHV is a highly contagious viral disease that can cause significant morbidity and mortality in common carp, which are sometimes selectively bred for the ornamental fish industry, in which the carp is known as koi.
First detected in England in 1996, KHV has been found around the world and was responsible for the large-scale carp die-offs seen in Ontario in 2007 and 2008. Although not previously found in wild fish samples in Michigan, KHV was detected in a private koi pond near Grand Rapids in 2003.
A herpes-type virus, KHV can produce 80- to 100-percent mortality in diseased populations. Common disease symptoms include pale and necrotic gills; lethargy; sunken eyes; erratic swimming; a notch in the “nose” of the fish; and patches of discolored skin.
Death can happen within one or two days following the onset of symptoms, with most fish dying within 6 to 24 days.
While it appears to only cause disease and mortalities in common carp and koi, the virus can infect goldfish and crucian carp. KHV does not cause any human health effects. The impact of KHV on native minnow species is currently unknown at this time.
Nevertheless, the NRC is taking precautionary measures by including Kent Lake, the Huron River upstream of Kent Lake to the Hubbell Millpond Dam, and any tributaries flowing into Kent Lake on the list of inland waters closed to taking of minnows for personal or commercial use, in hopes of reducing the likelihood of having anglers spread the virus to other waterways.
The order that would place the ban on the taking of minnows is expected to come before the NRC on Nov. 10. o