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An estimated 1,000 to 2,000 dead carp were found at Fountain Lake in Albert Lea, and experts say the cause of death is a species-specific strain of the herpes virus. 

According to the Lakes Foundation of Albert Lea, the Minnesota DNR pathology lab confirmed the deaths were caused by the koi herpes virus (KHV), which is a common carp-specific virus that doesn't impact humans or other fish species. 

"I had DNR staff on site Tuesday and they boated the entire perimeter of the lake and it was reported there were 1,000-2,000 common carp and a handful of catfish, largemouth bass, and black bullhead observed dead," a post on the Lakes Foundation of Albert Lea reads.

"However, we suspect those handful of other dead fish species (non-carp) were not related to this fish kill event. Unless something else shows up, we are confident this fish kill is exclusively common carp and caused by KHV."

It's unclear how common carp in Fountain Lake contracted the virus, but in 2017 thousands of carp died of KHV in Lake Elysian in Waseca County. The DNR and University of Minnesota said that outbreak was likely caused by someone releasing a pet goldfish or koi into the lake or a connecting waterway. 

Koi and common carp are known carriers of KHV, with the DNR saying goldfish can be asymptomatic carriers of the virus. According to the Minnesota Aquatic Invasive Species Research Center (MAISRC), signs of KHV include white or gray lesions on the gills, hemorrhage on the skin and sunken eyes. 

Infected fish can die with 24-48 hours of symptoms appearing. 

KHV was first confirmed in Minnesota in 2009 in a backyard koi pond, while the 2017 outbreaks in Lake Elysian, Albert Lea Lake and other southern Minnesota lakes are the first known exposures to wild common carp, though the MAISRC notes that it's possible the virus had gone undiagnosed for years. 

KHV outbreaks are most likely to occur in Minnesota from late June to early August, when water temperatures are typically 70-76°F. 

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