KHV - The story so far
KHV rears it ugly head again
Many so-called 'experts' have been caught out because they don't quarantine their fish before adding them to the lake.
Whose fault is this? Well if you spoke to the 'victims', it is everyone else at fault but not them. What a surprise, if in doubt blame some one else for your own stupidity. In simple terms, there are people willing to lose everything (remember; fisheries are businesses) because they can't be bothered to keep the fish somewhere safe for quarantine for a few months.
Remember, keep new fish separate from your old stock, quarantine for a least a year and mix a few of your fish with the new fish in the quarantine tank at high temperatures.
Do not believe people who say I have certificate that says these fish are KHV free, the results only apply to the fish tested not fish that happen to be in the same tank.
I recently saw an advert for a fish retailer who said our shop is bio secure, and in the same advert said new fish arriving soon. Well common sense tells you the site is no longer bio secure once you let new fish in. As they also stock other cold-water fish that have been imported via wholesalers it makes it even more unlikely that the site is bio secure.
Do not be fooled by people saying bio secure/all certificated/KHV free (this caught out a very large retailer last year) none of it is true and like many tests it is only valid on the day of testing. Who is to say the fish have not since been infected?
Protect yourself, no one else will. If people cannot be bothered to look after their own fish they should not be fish keepers.
I have no sympathy for people who get caught out. KHV is everywhere, Japan, Israel, Malaysia, Thailand, China, the US, all over Europe and the UK.
It is better to have a half empty pond of healthy fish than a full pond of dead ones.
If you do not trust the fish supplier then do not buy the fish. There will be other fish, there is no rush to fill the pond with ticking time bombs waiting to go off and wipe out your collection.
2006 - The Year of KHV
With the year starting off in a climate of declining koi sales, it has been for a number of years, the quality and prices have been stable. Israel first confirmed the virus in the 1990's. Since then people have been allowed to import fish from infected countries, not just Israel, with the proviso that the vaccine protects the fish. As many fish farmers and I have said, this is not safe or workable due to the rather obvious problems:
- The vaccine would show up as the virus; it would not be possible to tell whether the fish has had the vaccine or the virus. The quote below is from a new study (rather obvious and what every fish farmer said years ago!)
"Tests for KHV are not fully able to distinguish between vaccinated fish and previously infected fish."
- The paperwork supplied with fish is very difficult to prove that it is even related to the fish it arrives with; many countries rely on exports so the chance of an official stopping the export of 'iffy' fish is very small and, to be honest, I doubt many 'vets' ever see the fish they are signing for any way.
- Many fisheries are pressurised into stocking large specimen fish for the anglers to catch. The cost of UK grown fish is high because they grow slowly in the cooler climate and, with the competition for fishermen's money, cost becomes a major factor and many go for the cheaper imported fish.
With KHV becoming a major problem in the USA, there have been 14,000 out breaks this year alone due to the warm weather they have had this year, the writing on the web gets worse. We all face with this new deadly virus. There have been a huge number of people claiming to have KHV but most cases have proven to be poor water quality, still the number one problem-causing agent in ponds. Seven dealers have been infected this year (2006) and there are a number in Sussex, with all fish coming from Japan. While this has yet to be confirmed, a number of koi keepers have been infected and wiped out with conformation that it was KHV. A number of lakes (23 that have been reported) have been infected.
It is now thought that the virus can spread by nets and unhooking mats etc. So fishermen, make sure you treat your equipment with a good disinfectant before you get home or go to a new fishing area.
Without a doubt, as all fish farmers have said from the beginning, KHV will spread along with SVC and other diseases as long as the ornamental trade is allowed to bring fish in with the 'easy paperwork'. This paperwork offers no real guarantee that the fish are safe from any diseases. It is not worth the paper it is written on, as it requires no testing to back up the so-called heath certificate.
This is the biggest problem facing the industry but, as usual, the stick my head in the sand brigade are leading the way, as price is the most important thing to customers. They would rather buy diseased cheap fish than healthy English fish? Given the choice, I don't believe this is the case but I could be wrong.
The UK producers can't produce enough fish to satisfy the market requirements but, given backing, could in time. It is only matter of time before it will be very difficult to buy any koi and feel safe, so quarantine your fish.
KHV has now been confirmed in Japan (October 2003). Thousands of Koi and common carp (for eating) have been killed. While many have always thought that it was present in Japan, this now confirms it. Be very careful when buying koi or fancy goldfish that are from Japan or from any producer for that matter. While the Japanese are very easy people to deal with and they are very honourable, this virus has made a number slip from the path and they have carried on selling koi with the virus, so any new imports are a potential risk.
You have no excuse if you introduce the fish into your pond without quarantining them first (remember the virus is triggered by temperature, so keeping them cold all winter in outdoor ponds is a waste of time!) You must raise the temperature to over 22C for at least 3 weeks* to make sure, the longer the better. If any of the new fish die take a good look at it and decide weather you want to risk your whole collection. It would be very stupid to risk every thing for one fish. During this period you will need to introduce one of your own koi to see if the new fish are carriers. A carrier may not die or show signs of disease.
Remember: As the dealers do not have to tell you they have had it (Soon to change), they will not! Not to mention it is very difficult to diagnose that it is KHV. Please don't be naive, they can't even tell the truth about the sturgeon they sell).
If you go into a dealer and the fish look rubbish walk away, you are not doing the fish any favours by trying to save them all you are doing is encouraging the dealers to sell rubbish fish. You would not go into a car dealer and buy a car if the other cars where covered in rust and had flat tyres would you? (PS. If you would, give up fish keeping NOW).
There is no cure and, as they are ornamental fish, it is unlikely that one will appear in the near future, if ever.
Any one who says it is OK to keep fish that survive is either very dim or needs their head examined. One so-called fish expert has already said, in a magazine, it is OK to show them if they survive! This not only shows how ignorant experts can be but how human nature kicks in and says 'If they survived they must be OK'. Well the surviving fish may be well OK but they are still carriers of the virus.
Goldfish and tench normally survive the virus and could be carriers, no research as been carried out. Most Dealers do not quarantine their fish ('it costs to much' is their excuse) so you must do it for yourself. Please don't lose your fish collection because 'it was pretty' or 'I felt sorry for it'
Think! - It could wipe out your collection.
KHV is on the Move
There is new data on the spread of KHV and a newsletter by DEFRA (get from their web site). It is a very nice 37 page document which, having spent no end of taxpayers money on, comes to the same conclusion as most fish farmers (although in a more eloquent manner) that the disease is going to spread and the Koi industry will not do anything about it as it would effect their ability to supply good fish. What they really mean is that they will not be able to make such a large profit on the fish as they would have to quarantine them correctly and this would cost money. I know retailers who think you can only survive on a 1000% mark up! Needless to say, I no longer deal with them.
The KHV vaccine: *New information from The CEFAS paperwork says there is no vaccine for KHV.*
New cases will keep on appearing in ponds when the water temperature reaches the trigger point. Infecting fish with a virus is NOT the way to immunise the fish, as the ones that survive (most die in this 'vaccination' program) are carriers of the virus. So I can only say again beware of koi, make sure you buy an isolation tank for them and heat-treat them to make sure there is no virus.
Well this is the most depressing page I have written (ever) but if you, the public, buy fish from bad dealers it's your own fault. If any fish looks poor there is a good chance they don't look after any of them. If they don't know what they are selling, why are you buying from them? If you make the effort then shops will hopefully make the effort to get better as well (now I know I'm dreaming but you can hope). There are good dealers out there and when you find them, if you support them they will support you if you have problems.
You know the risks; it's your choice. Good luck!
*New information suggests that the virus may not be activated until 9 weeks after the temperature rise so be careful.
Over the years I have come to realise that common sense should be renamed 'not very common at all sense'. With all the recent problems with KHV, GHV and all the other Koi problems I still get emails saying 'I bought a new fish and put it in my pond and now I have problems'.
If you don't quarantine your fish it is your fault. The fact that the fish you purchased has an infection or parasites is hardly a surprise. It has been shipped from some far away country and been through a wholesaler and a retailer and then to you. Needless to say there is a fair amount of stress involved for the fish and something has to give. The fish are run down, often not fed for a long time and then go into your pond with new fish and new problems to overcome.
Written by Terry White & Graham Quick