State identifies virus that killed hundreds of Lake Orion fish

Noelle Gray
The Detroit News

The state says it has identified the cause of death for hundreds of carp in Lake Orion in mid- to late July

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources has determined that the common carp fish kill was caused by koi herpesvirus.

"As the case with most herpesviruses, KHV is very specific on which fish species it will infect and only affects common carp, koi and goldfish," Gary Whelan, fisheries division research program manager, said in a statement. "This is only the third detection of this non-native virus in Michigan waters, and it is known to kill large numbers of its host species at times."

The state says 300-600 fish in the northeast Oakland County lake were killed.

The common carp, native to Europe, were introduced to Michigan in the late 1870s-1880s as a food fish and were widespread in Michigan by the 1890s. 

"KHV does not affect any other fish species and has no implications for any other birds, mammals or humans," said Whelan.

The department received assistance with the investigation from the Aquatic Animal Health Laboratory at Michigan State University.