Iowa DNR confirms cause of Storm Lake common carp kill

STORM LAKE – The Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR) confirmed the Koi Herpes Virus (KHV) killed thousands of young common carp at Storm Lake. It’s the first time the virus has been detected in Iowa. Outbreaks have previously been identified in Minnesota and Wisconsin. There have been no instances of the virus infecting humans or other fish species.

“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 virus is very contagious and deadly among carp. It attacks the fish’s gills and can produce lesions on their bodies. The virus is unlikely to eliminate the entire Storm Lake carp population.

“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.”

Young common carp began to die and wash ashore in recent weeks. Thousands of dead carp have been found along Storm Lake’s shore.

“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.”