Archived News

New Fish Virus Discovery

November 9, 1998

Pathologists at the Fish Health Service recently assisted one of the country's only fish health practitioners in the discovery of a new virus believed responsible for the deaths of several [#?]show-quality ornamental koi fish judged at a recent New York hobbyist event.

The fish, many worth more than $10,000 apiece, apparently picked up the fatal virus while placed in a common tank for judging. Fish belonging to hobbyists from Israel, Japan, Europe, Korea and the U.S. may have then taken the virus home and infected other animals. At least one retailer had brought fish to the event.

According to Ronald Hedrick, chief of the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine Fish Health Service, the fish health laboratory was asked to examine tissue samples from a veterinarian who treats ornamental species for hobbyists around the country. Laboratory cell cultures verified the presence of a virus that UC faculty have determined is a new strain. Laboratory researchers are now working to characterize the virus and the disease it causes. Hedrick, an expert in infectious diseases of fish, adds that the illness poses no threat to humans.

As ornamental koi rise in popularity and price, the spread of disease becomes an international concern among hobbyists, raising issues regarding transport, maintenance of ideal water temperatures, and judging methods at shows.

For more information, contact: Ronald P. Hedrick, Chief of Service

Fish Health Service