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Article sited from Practical Fish Magizine  http://www.practicalfishkeeping.co.uk

Virus warning

Imports of Japanese Koi are looking increasingly unlikely this year as Koi Herpes Virus (KHV) sweeps Japan. Matt Clarke investigates.

Virus warning

The chances of Koi being exported from Japan this year are under threat as the Koi Herpes Virus (KHV) continues to spread throughout the country. The epidemic has recently led to 60 carp breeders, whose fish have been affected by the virus, agreeing to have all their fish destroyed. The affected farms, which lie around Kasumigaura and Kitaura lakes, produce mainly food carp.

Once culled, the breeders will be unable to produce fish for at least two to three years. They are set to receive 250-300 yen (£1.35-1.60) per kilogram for any fish destroyed.

The most recent reports state that the disease is affecting food carp, Koi and also wild carp. Some reports say that the disease has also hit Niigata, the world’s top Koi-producing region. The outbreak, which killed 4000 Koi in a single week, occurred in Ojiya, central Niigata. The fish were kept in separate ponds, but were on a centralised filtration system.

An official for the Association of Carp Growers in Ojiya told the Daily Mainichi News: “We don’t know the exact scale of the damage or where the carp came from.”

An outbreak of KHV was also reported in western Niigata on November 14, so fish movements around the prefecture have been stopped in an attempt to contain the disease.

As a further precaution, a number of ornamental carp shows scheduled up to the end of the year have been cancelled. These are reported to have caused havoc among organisers and enthusiasts.

The breeders and distributors behind Japan’s largest annual carp-grading show, the All Japan Nishikigoi Promotion Association, have cancelled their event scheduled for January. The cancellation of the event is likely to hit breeders further, as it is said to help raise prices for some fish.

It is thought that KHV has been found in at least 22 of the 47 prefectures in Japan.

When the disease struck Indonesia last year, the Japanese Agriculture and Forestries Ministry introduced measures to limit the transport and disposal of infected fish, and in July 2003 further restrictions were introduced governing the importation of carp.

However, by then it was already too late. Wide scale fish kills in the Okayama Prefecture between May and July were later found to be caused by KHV, suggesting that the virus had entered the country already.

Takaji Iida, the head of the Animal Health Division at the National Research Institute of Aquaculture told the Daily Yomiuri that the disease could recur this year. The virus is less active at lower temperatures, so it is plausible that when the water temperature starts to rise in the spring, that many other farms with apparently healthy fish could start to lose fish as the virus takes hold.

At present, there is no single completely reliable method for determining whether live carp are carrying the virus, so it is almost impossible for suppliers to guarantee that their fish are free of the disease.

In an effort to increase the trade’s perception of the health of their Koi, suppliers in Niigata have suggested that they expose disease-free common carp to their Koi and then kill the common carp to determine whether they have contracted the virus.

Keith Davenport, chief executive of the Ornamental Aquatic Trade Association (OATA) told PPM that the situation in Japan, and especially in Niigata is still unclear. Some reports say the disease is present in Koi but these are currently unconfirmed and may prove to be incorrect.

Davenport said that OATA’s recommendation of a minimum 14-day isolation period at temperatures of 23-28°C/73-82ºF had been supported by scientific study, and that any suppliers using the technique would be ‘very unlucky’ to have infected fish pass through unnoticed.

All retailers and wholesalers stocking coldwater and pond fish are strongly urged to adhere to the OATA guidelines in order to protect their own businesses, the UK aquatic trade and our native fish stocks.

For a copy of the OATA document on how to identify and deal with KHV, email OATA’s chief executive Keith Davenport at
keith@ornamentalfish.org, or visit:www.ornamentalfish.org

This item was first published in the January 2004 issue of the trade publication Pet Product Marketing.

Matt Clarke

Matt ClarkeMatt Clarke is Practical Fishkeeping's Website and Technical Editor. A former fish biologist, Matt holds two diplomas, a degree and two higher degrees in fish taxonomy and biology. He's kept fish for over 20 years and currently keeps cichlids.

Online articles by Matt Clarke    Reprints by Matt Clarke

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