Tuesday, July 14th 2020, 2:14 pm - There’s nothing like the sight and smell of dead fish on a beach to ruin the cottage mood.
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Hundreds of common carp were found rotting on the shoreline of Lake Winnipeg’s cottage country, between Patricia Beach and Victoria Beach. Common carp are an invasive species in Canada that disrupt ecosystems by pulling up vegetation and stirring up mud, but seeing them wash up dead in large numbers is an alarming sight for Manitoba Fish and Wildlife officials who are investigating the possibility of a viral disease causing the mass fish death.
Samples collected at the beginning of June are being analyzed for the presence of two viruses which are known to affect common carp. “We will not know the cause until the tissue analysis is completely, which will take approximately 2 weeks,” John Neufeld with MFW explained. The team is on the lookout for koi herpes virus, which has been documented in Manitoba. A provincial factsheet about koi herpes virus notes that the disease affects common carp, koi, and goldifsh, but cannot be transmitted to humans. Infected carp are even safe to eat, if you can get past the symptoms of sunken eyes, blisters, and rotting gills.
The second virus the team is looking for, spring viraemia of carp, has not been reported in Manitoba. While it too is not harmful to humans, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency reports that the virus can spread to other finfish, including tench, northern pike, and pumpkinseed.