KINGMAN, Ariz.— Laboratory testing has determined that a virus is the probable cause of a massive carp die-off at Lake Mohave.
Thousands of dead carp have been washing to shore since mid-May and authorities have pinpointed the koi herpes virus as the likely cause.
“There are a lot of different fish viruses. This one is specific to carp,” said John Joberg, supervising fisheries biologist for the Nevada Division of Wildlife. “It’s fairly endemic and common in the United States but it’s the first time to my knowledge we’ve seen it in the wild in this part of the country.”
Game officials are recommending that anglers avoid taking carp, and focus on other fish species in the lake until the die-off ends. A news release from officials at Lake Mead National Recreation Area, which includes Lake Mohave, indicates that reports from around the lake indicate that the die-off may be subsiding.
Officials with various wildlife agencies continue to discourage people from handling the dead carp. The virus poses no threat to humans and the lake is safe for water recreation activity, authorities said. Joberg said it is not known how the virus was introduced at Lake Mohave and that officials have no mitigation plan.
“There unfortunately isn’t much we can do. There is no vaccine. There is no cure,” Joberg said. He said experts believe the virus may run its course and die as the water temperature warms on the lake.
Joberg said there’s no telling how many carp might die before the virus subsides. Arizona Game and Fish spokesman Zen Mocarski said the virus, previously confined to Lake Mohave, may be spreading to Lake Havasu where a few dozen dead carp have been discovered in recent days.