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Friday, July 18, 2008

Carp - Simcoe watershed residents can soon breathe easier

Simcoe watershed residents can soon breathe easier — literally.
The carp die-off in Lake Simcoe seems to have run its course, according to the Ministry of Natural Resources.


John Almond, area supervisor with the Aurora district of the ministry, said no new dead fish have been found in the lake and the die-off appears to be over in the lake, but still might not have run its course in neighbouring waterways.


Dead fish now being found died some time ago, he said.


Test results on 13 of the 26 carp and one bullhead submitted for testing have come back from the lab at the University of Guelph and show nine of the carp died of the koi herpes virus.


Three other types of bacteria found in the fish naturally occur in the lake, but were found in elevated levels in some of the fish, Mr. Almond said.


Some environmental factors contributed to the fish kill as well, including fluctuations in water temperature and carp spawning activity "that can also make them susceptible to disease," he said.


Koi herpes poses no health risk to humans, but one of the bacteria found can be harmful to people with suppressed immune systems or who have open sores or cuts. Those people are being urged not to go in the water, especially if there are dead fish present.


York Region Health Services safe water program manager Bernard Mayer said people should not go in the water if they have an open sore because of the presence of natural bacteria, dead fish or no dead fish.


"Currently, there are no health concerns for the public for the time being," he said. "Those bacteria that were found are naturally found in the environment, so they're always present. From indications we got, there is no increase in those bacteria."


The public is cautioned that further test results on the remaining fish are still to come.


The Ministry of Natural Resources also advises anglers not to consume any fish that appear to be sick, dying or already dead.


As with any dead or dying fish or wildlife, pets should not be allowed to eat or come into contact with dead or dying fish.


If you find dead fish along your shoreline, you are advised not to handle them with bare hands.
Wear gloves and use shovels or rakes to move the fish. Dispose of the gloves and bags in the garbage. Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water after handling the carcasses. Wash and disinfect with mild bleach the shovel or any other tool that came into contact with the animal.


Dead fish may be buried at least two feet deep, or double-bagged for disposal in landfills.


Residents are urged to check with their municipality to see what arrangements have been made for collection or transport of the dead fish to waste disposal

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