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An opportunity to do something about KHV

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  • An opportunity to do something about KHV

    Koi Club Members:

    We're writing you about a subject that matters deeply to every koi keeper....keeping our fish ALIVE. One way is to get rid of the Koi Herpes Virus (KHV) that has been so devastating to so many of our ponds both in the United States and around the Koi World, including Japan.
    We have heard of many unsuspecting koi hobbyists, as well as dealers, that have lost almost everything due to a virus the owners did not even know they had.

    At the Seminar mentioned below, it became a no-brainer that we must do something to help eradicate KHV (or whatever it is) or it will eradicate the hobby. It is MUCH MORE A KILLER THAN WE HAD THOUGHT.
    Therefore, we ask each of the clubs to take this threat seriously and do three things to help:
    1.. Read the letter below. Pass it out to club members.
    2.. Discuss it with your club. Let us know if you need more information for your discussion.
    3.. Give money: if individually, may we suggest $1 for each of your koi? For a club donation, think big for a worthwhile cause. One club is "thinking" $1,000.00. In return, you will be taking one more step toward that goal.

    We will give you an update in KOI USA and MAKC as to the progress that is being made with research and the development of a vaccine. Please contact us with comments or if you need information. As coordinators, we will do what we can to help,

    Beth Grunden
    mailto:[email protected]@houston.rr. com

    Brenda Atwell
    mailto:[email protected]


    Dear Koi Keeper,

    I was fortunate enough to attend the Koi Health Seminar at the
    University of Georgia - Athens. This event brought together koi enthusiasts from all over the US and Canada. We came to learn about better koi health and to hear the latest information about koi diseases - especially KHV (Koi Herpes Virus).

    The schedule was full; the pace exhausting; but we all learned a great deal about koi. One participant said that he came to the seminar with a million questions and left with two million questions, thus proving that good teaching brings up what one doesn't know rather than just reinforcing what one already knows.

    Our lab time was mind boggling and fun. With instructors such as Vicki
    Vaughan, we practiced activities like anesthetizing fish and giving injections. Dr. St. Erne performed koi surgery for us. The patient is still doing well. Dr. Yosha demonstrated necropsy. Seeing exactly how the koi works inside fascinated a lot of us. From this demonstration, we saw first hand what the effects of poor nutrition, water quality, or untreated injury can do to our koi. Dr. Johnson showed the finer points of scraping for parasites as well as how to dress wounds and treat injuries. Best of all, we got to try most of these procedures ourselves. Wow!

    By Sunday, questions about KHV were growing. Then on Sunday afternoon we learned more when Dr. Branson Ritchie spoke. I wish every koi lover who really wants good koi health could hear him! Dr Ritchie's success in characterizing and producing vaccines in other companion species made him THE person to hear. He told us about searching for viruses, which were damaging and destroying another companion animal: the bird
    (parrots, cockatoos, macaws etc.). There is no government funding for companion species so the burden of allowing for quality of life for these animals rests upon the hobby and suppliers to the industry.

    THERE'S THE WAKE-UP CALL! There is NO government funding for companion animals. If we want research done to find the viruses and cure or prevent diseases which are ruining our beautiful koi - we have to stop wringing our hands and step up to do what is necessary to stabilize this situation. WE HAVE TO FUND IT OURSELVES!

    The Emerging Disease Research Group for Companion Animals (EDRGCA) at the University of Georgia, Athens, has been successful in characterizing unknown bird viruses, developing diagnostic tests to screen for and finally producing vaccines for diseases that have plagued the bird industry for years.

    This work was not funded by governmental grants or large companies- it was made possible through private individuals who contributed $5- $10 or $100 or more to collectively make a difference in the quality of their pets' lives.

    The EDRGCA has utilized some of the funds generated by the production of bird vaccines to help in this koi emergency. They have generated the incredible amount of data we witnessed at the seminar. DNA screening tools (PCR) for the virus, as well as serological assays for KHV, have been found. An in situ hybridization assay that allows for the detection of KHV in formalin fixed tissues has been developed. An aquaculture center for the production of specific pathogen free koi to support the research efforts has been constructed. Fish from this center will be utilized in the Latency Study funded by AKCA.

    The Group (EDRGCA) has begun the steps necessary to develop a viable vaccine for the koi hobby, but it is up to the hobbyists and koi clubs to continue these projects. The BIRD lovers have helped. Now it's time for us to take care of OUR fish ourselves! Many of the attendees at the Koi Health Seminar were inspired by the results so far, and are going to take this message back to our clubs. We have the technology to help our koi - We need financial support to make it a reality.

    How much is needed? To continue the current research we need to raise $750,000 immediately. The goal is an FDA approved vaccine. We have assessed the needs and now we have to fund them. Every dollar added to the fund will bring us closer to that vaccine. Each koi keeper should make regular donations to the fund. Clubs should not even blink as they write checks for "give until it hurts" levels are donated. Members of the fish industry must do their share, too. This virus can be defeated - ONLY if we're willing to make it happen.

    Individuals, clubs and members of the fish industry may make donations to:

    Comparative Medicine/koi health
    (Also put "koi health" in the "for __" line)

    Mail checks to:

    University of Georgia
    College of Veterinary Medicine
    Attention: Fran Contrell
    Athens, Georgia 30602


    Toni Anderson

    Atlanta Koi Club
    Newsletter Editor


    Koi keeping is not a belief system; it is applied science with a touch of artistry.
  • #2

    Things clubs can do

    Here are a few things clubs can do:
    -give from their own funds
    -coordinate (and match?) contributions from individual members
    -at shows put a small publicized extra charge on show tanks and vendor spots for research
    -at shows have special auctions or raffles where the revenue goes to research (this is where the dealers and vendors can siginificant public contributions)
    -at auctions put a small publicized surcharge (say $5 or 2 pounds) on each fish sold.
    -at auctions encourage members selling more than one fish to consider giving the profit from one of the fish to research

    I hope clubs and national organizations planning shows, seminars, auctions, and other events this year can consider doing things such as listed above.

    Koi keeping is not a belief system; it is applied science with a touch of artistry.


    • #3

      Helluva lot cheaper to just keep the pathogen carrying fish out of the marketplace.

      I know it ain't PC, though. Gotta stay PC for goodness sake.

      I posted my thoughts (rants) on two other boards (NI and Koivet) they'll probly get removed so go look quickly.

      Support research, that is an admirable goal. But also, its cheaper and easier to prevent the continual introduction of a pathogen than to try and fix it.

      It is not a big problem for most US producers. The producers that have the problem should bear the cost of fixing it, not the hobbiests. Most of those are overseas.

      Hobbiests should demand that we no longer keep bringing in diseased fish with impunity. If a country does not belong to the OIE, it can't ship live koi and goldfish here. China is not a member.



      • #4

        You nailed it Brett! Someone said it is a $75 million dollar export industry? And they want us to foot a $750,000 research bill to keep them in business? Sounds like a snipe hunt to me. I'm not the source of KHV, why should I fund those that are to get a cure? They are making the MONEY, let them fund it. If we stop buying their fish till they do, then something will happen. The Israelis quickly learned that if they didn't invest a lot of time and money into looking for a cure, they would be out a lot of money. Don't remember them asking for money. Those that make the money off the fish SHOULD fund this research, not the guy already paying for a healthy/disease-free fish!


        • #5

          sorry not nailed. He wants to try to keep the fish out. Gee aren't drugs illegal? Are they not in the united states? khv is here and must be addressed. This has to be addressed by the people for the people as no government is going to offer money as a grant to study a non food source fish silment. Private sector all the way with donations made to universities and colleges with students eager and fresh with something to prove to the world.
          " I'd rather a bottle in front of me than a frontal lobotomy "


          • #6

            No one is saying the government should fund this. Not their problem. Dealers and breeders are making the money here, their problem. If I stop buying fish from them because they don't practice proper biosecurity procedures, or can't tell me where their fish came from, or aren't willing to provide healthy fish, then they get hit in the pocketbook. Now, we have a problem. Why should I pay, or donate any money so these guys can sell me what they already should be selling me, healthy fish. Sorry, not my problem to give more money to the situation. If I get KHV, it's my fault at this point, knowing what we know. I am not going to bankroll someone elses business interests. Brett puts extra measures and money into making sure his fish are clean, why not bankroll him, or Brady. We know if they continue to do what they are doing that their fish are clean, so why not give them extra money to continue what they are doing? (Brett, Brady you can send your gratitude, to....) If those of you that want to give to this cause, more power to you. This is an open forum, and my two cents is this is not how to address this issue.


            • #7

              Well, fish aren't drugs. Well, in the case of koi that might be debatable.

              We (US in this case) can keep most of the problem at bay by doing minimal import restrictions and requiring some sort of health documentation as is done in many, many countries around the world. Right now in the US, if you got the money, you can just about bring fish in from anywhere. That ain't right, wasn't right before this mess started and ain't been made right yet.

              I'll gladly submit to any requirement placed on imports. But the sad case is, the American fish producer (all fish not just koi) already carries a much, much heavier regulatory burden than any producer in any country we import from.

              This did not become a problem until it was imported.

              And, yes KHV is here, but NO, something hasn;t "got to be done about it."

              Nobody has to have a koi.

              If the koi trade becomes a greater threat to the world's food production, I've no doubt that governments across the globe will stop it.

              Self policing. Do not trade in infected fish. Do not buy from sources of infection, over and over and over again because those fish are cheap.

              I hope somebody does come up with a million bucks to toss at this problem, but I'm not sure about the best way to spend it. Bailing out the folks that brought this on our fish through mismanagement, lack of biosecurity, greed, and dishonesty just doesn't seem right to me.



              • #8

                A decade ago native Florida bromeliads, primarily Tillandsia, began to be decimated by an imported weevil with no natural enemies in its new home. Through research funded solely from contributions from hobbiests, and much volunteered time by a concerned biologist at the U. of F lorida, the weevil was identified, its home territory in Central America surveyed, and a natural predator (a wasp) identified. At that point a state grant allowed experimentation on the wasp and how to reproduce it in a controlled environment. Research continues due to hobbiest contributions into the potential of introducing the wasp into the natural environment. Since it appears the wasp harms only weevils not natural to Florida, there is hope that continued research will result in being able to introduce a natural control to slow and perhaps stop the decimation of native flora. Without past and continuing hobbiest contributions, there would be no hope for a unique group of native Florida air plants with virtually no commercial value.

                With koi, there is commercial value. The KHV virus has thus far been limited to carp, but I wonder whether it might not also afflict other cyprinids in due course. If so, the aquarium trade fisheries in Florida will be in jeopardy. It is too late to point a finger of blame. It is here and must be addressed. Presumably those with the most at stake would be interested in finding a solution. Government has a role to play, as it does with other diseases affecting economic productivity. And, I think hobbiests can be a resource to promote that cause.

                However, at this time, I am not ready to contribute, because I sense too much of a "shotgun" approach to the problem and I cannot quite figure out how a vaccine will solve the problem from the hobbiest's perspective. Without assurance that every koi has been vaccinated, I think quarantine will remain necessary. I cannot see any breeder vaccinating several thousand fish. If I will have to do all the same things whether a vaccine is developed or not, then I'll hold my pennies a bit longer awaiting a convincing experimental protocol to be explained. In the meantime, let's hope heat treatment effects a cure, and not merely remission.


                • #9

                  Mike, you voice serious and thought provoking concerns on both sides of this issue.

                  I've a friend many of us know that is very knowlegeable about bromeliads and I intend to ask him about your story. It is an interesting story that raises a few questions. How much money has been contributed and continues to be contributed by hobbiests? How much did the state kick in?

                  This sounds like an ecological problem that would garner the interest and funding from the state. Of course, Florida, just like Texas is an ecological nightmare of imported species.

                  Fortunately KHV seems restricted to common carp and koi. There are several other virus' (virii??) that occur in Cyprinids including Cyprinid Herpes Virus and Spring Vireamia of Carp (SVC) and surely others.

                  However, common carp make up a very large portion of the world catch that is produced on farms. Especially in the Third World. Farmed carp is a huge protein resource of a very large portion of the world's population. There is a bit more at risk here than a few relatively wealthy persons pet fish. I think you already had that thought. SVC appears to cross over families, not just species of fishes. It has largely been spread by both food carp production and the koi hobby.

                  The advent of worldwide distribution of koi and thier attendant pathogens has presented a heretofore unkown risk to world food production. Lets see...

                  On this side we have koi for a few wealthy Westerners.
                  On the other side we have common carp for billions of Third Worlders.

                  Which is more important and requires the most protection?

                  Just a note on vaccination for fish. There is a fairly long history of its effective use in many species. The concerns you express about not all animals recieving the vaccination are important. But the practicality aspect is less daunting than I think you imagine.

                  One year I vaccinated 33 million channel catfish against Edwardsiella ictilurii (aka Enteric Septiceamia of Channel Catish aka "ESC" or "Extremely Sick Catfish").

                  This is accomplished initially by immersion of the fry in a liquid containing the vaccine followed later on with a booster given in the feed.

                  I do not take issue with the idea of a vaccine, just with the method of funding the research.



                  • #10

                    I had not thought about an absorbed vaccine. Very interesting. Not sure yet how that affects my thinking.

                    Can't say how much hobbiests contibuted to the Evil Weevil fund, but Florida Council of Bromeliad Societies probably has info on its website.


                    • #11

                      While Brett's import banning protocol sounds self serving at first glance, I would go even further. Any country that has a KHV problem, even with food Carp, should be banned from exporting Koi to the US. The risk of cross contamination is too great.

                      Every fish farm and breeder in the US including Brett's and Brady's should be randomly checked for the disease at least once a year. Until a cure becomes available, and until it's proven that heat treated KHV Koi cannot be carriers, KHV infected fish should be destroyed. .

                      Like it or not, the average Joe carries this hobby, high line Koi keepers are a very small minority and the fact is, they can't influence the marketplace at all. It's a dollar driven economy DUH.

                      Education is the key, sure, but all the platitudes in the world won't fix this problem. The average retailer being on the "Front Line" that markets to the average Joe, gets very little if any support on this issue, from either the breeders, importers, manufacturers or even the "guru's" of koi keeping. He's stuck with "educating" the public, and then, when He's unable to bear the tremendous "education costs", chastized, for outrageous profits---give me a break.

                      We spend untold hours of Educating, by our web site, store handouts, personal conversations and seminars, with very little positive feedback from the industry at large or the Mart customer that's bought a bunch of China/Japanese 49cent diseased crapagoi and a $79.00, 50 gallon Koi Pond Kit. We get plenty of arguments on pond management though, our 40 years of experience just can't compete with a $20.00 glitzy brochure. If you really want to help educate, here's a website for the company that sells more pond systems than anyone

                      My choices, since we've already been practicing off site quarantine for 10 Years, are relatively simple:

                      1. Stop importing Koi. (already been done)
                      1a.Stop buying Koi from problem breeders( Why would we buy from a known problem breeder? Lack of industry Information--that's why.)

                      2. Stop selling Koi (We stock and sell more varieties of goldfish than ever)

                      3. Stop Educating (with the advent of dirt cheap systems and million dollar ad campaigns, that will happen, hopefully later than sooner, when I can no longer meet overhead)

                      4. Form a dealer COOP to disseminate information quicker, to standardize information, buying programs and education of the customer. (we tried, 4 years ago, most of the people we contacted were afraid we would steal their secrets--lol see education)

                      Pond-On (tm)


                      • #12

                        Here is what I do about KHV. For the last two years I have only bought American bred koi and only from a certain two farms. I can go look at their parents and siblings to get an idea of what to expect and have their bloodlines explained to me. I know where their water comes from, I know what the farm's biosecurity is, I know how long they have had their broodfish or if they were also bred and born there. I know the koi were not shipped around, did not go through an auction or a facility where they were mixed with other fish. I know they did not go to a show and come back to the farm. In spite of this I still Q for two months going through all the temp ranges to break SVC and KHV because it is the right thing to do. But I know those fish only came from one place, the farm, to another place, mine, in their lives.


                        • #13

                          My other American girl. USA Brady showa born 2001.


                          • #14

                            No country is safe.

                            Like it or not, KHV is around....possibly in just about every country with carp/koi. The virus has been around for a while before it became big issue.

                            A question for everyone that added kois for the past 5 years, how do you know that your kois have not been exposed to the virus? How do you know that they are not carriers/vectors?

                            I think the best way to protect oneself is NOT to add anything to our existing pond. Does this include water from unknown sources?

                            Right now, the carp must be killed to check if it has this virus. Until we have a better approach to do this, there is NO guarantee that a koi is free of this virus, is there?

                            If the virus could live in the water for a time, how about birds/animals that visit your pond? :?:

                            Thai Koi-Keepers' Group


                            • #15

                              Great conversation...

                              My first thought after I heard about the KHV outbreak in Japan was, this is the end of the Japanese dominance of koi breeding. If you have seen how dependant they are on mixing stock at auction and cross selling of stock to each other you would be amazed. I am surprised it didn't hit them all as a whole. Absolutely no protections in place at all.

                              As for the donations...I'm emotionally torn due to the obligations and the practicality of it all. As Brett said, the logistics of applying a vaccine is not that difficult (Surprise to me) to overcome. The problem lies in the beast of what this is, A VIRUS! Research has shown that viruses are hundreds of times more difficult than bacterial infections. Hell, Israel has been spending millions for years trying to come up with a solution. The best hope they see now is to produce KHV immune Koi. The problem with this, they are carriers of KHV.

                              For now, we should do what we can. Lock the gates, isolate are Koi, and wait to see if this problem reduces itself by increase vigilance to safety precautions, stays the same, or explodes into an epidemic. With the later, only the responsible breeders will be left solvent to continue.

                              SMG: I am starting to think that buying from US breeders or from the isolated breeders in the south of Japan maybe the safest bet. Due to the proximity of all of the Niigata breeders and their mudponds, they may never be safe again. Hell, I may buy from Israel again in a few years with Mag Noy new health practices.

                              Banchard: You might want to add that you can only test when the virus is active. Testing of a carrier does not produce a positive for KHV if the virus is not in the active state.

                              In closing, I’m not against giving. I just don’t think that the quoted price will do all that is promised. We need more information from the people who are doing the study about their plans and goals. If every AKCA club gave $1000 dollars, you would only have $104,000.

                              I understand that you need to crawl before you walk....



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