A herpesvirus associated with mass mortality of juvenile and adult koi, a strain of common carp

Ronald Hedrick, O. Gilad, S. Yun, J. V. Spangenberg, G. D. Marty, R. W. Nordhausen, M. J. Kebus, H. Bercovier, A. Eldar

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361 Scopus citations


A herpesvirus was isolated from adult koi, a strain of common carp Cyprinus carpio, suffering mass mortality in two outbreaks—one in the mid-Atlantic region of the United States and the second in Israel. The principal external signs of dying fish were pale and irregularly colored gills. There were few consistent internal signs in either outbreak. The most prominent microscopic lesions were in the gills, where hyperplasia and necrosis of the epithelium were severe. Other lesions included interstitial nephritis, splenitis, and enteritis. Affected cells often contained nuclei with marginated chromatin and faint intranuclear inclusions. Typical herpesvirus particles were present in branchial epithelial cells, hepatocytes, and among circulating leukocytes. Inoculations of the koi fin (KF-1) cell line with tissue extracts from the gill and kidney–spleen resulted in cytopathic effects characterized by severe vacuolation first detected after 7 d incubation at 208C. Exposures of adult koi to the herpesvirus as propagated in KF-1 cells by bath or intraperitoneal injections resulted in 80–100% mortality during a 26-d period, and the virus was reisolated from the gill, kidney, liver, spleen, intestine, and brain of dead fish. The viral agents from koi in Israel and the United States appear to be similar if not identical; both could be distinguished from Herpesvirus cyprini by indirect fluorescent antibody tests with rabbit anti-H. cyprini serum. Other factors should be examined but we strongly suspect that this newly recognized koi herpesvirus (KHV) has the potential to be a significant cause of mortality among koi and presumably common carp.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)44-57
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Aquatic Animal Health
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2000

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Aquatic Science


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