Iowa’s first outbreak of koi herpes kills thousands of Storm Lake carp


Via Flickr

Grace Smith | August 11, 2022

The Iowa Department of Natural Resources confirmed on Aug. 9 that koi herpes killed thousands of carp at Storm Lake in Iowa in recent weeks. Although this virus has been detected in nearby states including Minnesota and Wisconsin, this outbreak is the first appearance of the virus in Iowa. 

Koi herpes is a very contagious and deadly viral disease that attacks fish gills and creates wounds in the bodies of the fish. The DNR said that although the virus is contagious, it is unlikely to completely eliminate the Storm Lake carp population. In addition, there are no instances of koi herpes affecting people or other fish species. 

DNR fisheries biologist Ben Wallace said Storm Lake created great conditions for the disease to spread, as many carp make direct contact with each other throughout the lake. “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,” Wallace said in a DNR release.

The carp washing to shore, which began a couple of weeks ago, created a problem for the community regarding where to dispose of the fish’s bodies. On Aug. 6, Storm Lake’s public service workers took a few hours to collect the bodies and get rid of them in the local landfill. 

The DNR did tests on Storm Lake water at the end of July which did not display any algae toxins dangerous to people.

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