KHV found in every part of England and Wales

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Government fisheries scientists assessing the distribution of the deadly Koi Herpes Virus (KHV) have found that it is present in every geographic region of the UK.

Scientists from the Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (Cefas) used ELISA antibody testing to identify the prevalence of the virus now officially known as Cyprinid Herpes Virus 3.

The study, which has recently been published in the Journal of Fish Diseases, found that only three of the 82 fish farms sampled produced positive results, suggesting that UK farms are a "relatively safe source of fish."

They also assessed 71 "high-risk" fisheries and detected the presence of the virus on 26 sites.

50% of imported Koi samples infected

The study also examined 12 consignments of Koi imported from South East Asia to determine whether KHV antibodies were present, and found that six samples from six different countries were contained contaminated fish.

Despite the high percentage of KHV infected Koi, Cefas still concluded that imported ornamental stocks were "lower risk".

It said: "Although a high proportion of consignments were positive, the results indicate that lower risk stocks of fish exist that could be sourced by the ornamental carp sector.

"The study provides evidence that KHV is widespread and prevalent in 'high-risk' fisheries. There are, however, prospects for controlling KHV as English and Welsh farms appear to be relatively free of the virus, and in most cases fish are not moved from fisheries to other waters."

For more information see the paper: Taylor NG, Dixon PF, Jeffery KR, Peeler EJ, Denham KL, Way K. (2010) - Koi herpesvirus: distribution and prospects for control in England and Wales. J Fish Dis. 2010 Mar 1;33(3):221-30. Epub 2009 Oct 30.