Since early March, the virus outbreak that’s been on everyone’s mind has been the novel COVID-19
But a different virus is believed to be causing its own chaos on Kansas lakes — the koi herpes virus.
During the past month and a half, boaters and anglers have reported seeing — and smelling — dozens of dead carp floating in waterways throughout the state, including Hillsdale Reservoir in Miami County and Pomona Reservoir in Osage County.
While some fish kills are expected during the summer months because of decrease oxygenation in the hot water and other natural causes, the quantity of the dead fish being reported and the fact that most are the same species is particularly noteworthy.
Brad Reinking, who lives about a mile from the Hillsdale Reservoir in Paola, was fishing with a friend on June 16 when he noticed a large number of dead fish surrounding him in the water.
“I would hate to guess exactly how many I saw that day, but I know at one point I counted 24 that I could see from my boat,” Reinking told The Topeka Capital-Journal.
According to the Kansas Department of Wildlife Parks and Tourism, sightings of dead common carp were first reported in mid- to late-May at Clinton, Hillsdale and Pomona reservoirs.
Staff members from the fisheries division said Pomona was initially the only location where staff could verify a small-scale die-off.
The agency said common carp are the only species that appear to be affected, leading to the belief that the koi herpes virus was the cause, and the state is currently collecting and testing samples from fish carcasses to find out for sure the cause of the deaths.
While the staff can’t say for certain the total number of carp infected by the suspected virus, they estimate the number to be in the thousands, with the affected fish ranging from 6 to 40 inches in length.