Australia carp will contract herpes to help eradicate the country’s population. The government will commit $15 million for the herpes program to introduce a specific virus to the population into Australia’s river system.
Scientists from Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO) have been testing the virus, known as CyHV-3, for seven years to make sure it won’t have any unintended consequences on country’s ecosystem, FOX News reports. CSIRO has tested the virus on several of the country’s native fish and other animals.
As the Australia carp contracts the herpes virus in freshwater system, the government will control the program in stages. Australian authorities are currently in the middle of what science minister Christopher Pyne reportedly called “carp-aggedon.”
The herpes virus will reportedly take around seven days to have a noticeable impact on a fish, when it will destroy the skin and kidneys. Around 24 hours after a fish presents these symptoms, it will die.
“It causes high death rates in common carp and in the ornamental koi carp. No other species of fish, including goldfish, are known to be affected by the virus,” a CSIRO spokesperson said.
If this makes you feel sad, you should know that this fish is an invasive species that harm the country’s native wildlife, mostly by consuming their sources of food. Australia’s government estimates the economic impact of the fish to be around $500 million per year, The Telegraph reported.
“It affects the European carp by attacking their kidneys, their skin, their gills and stopping them breathing effectively,” Australian Science Minister Christopher Pyne said. “They have the virus for a week before they show any symptoms and it suddenly kills them within 24 hours,” he added.
The Australia carp-herpes project can’t be brought to life right away since it is still to be determined how to deal with dead bodies most effectively. A significant part of the budgeting is to be spent specifically on a clean-up program.
“There’s obvious talk about whether the carp could be used for fertilizer, whether they could be used for pet food, whether they’ll need to be buried in large graves and be allowed to dissipate back into the system,” Pyne noted.
Carp is one of the most common freshwater fish in the world, because the species is able to tolerate many different habitats and living conditions. “The common carp is a nasty pest in our waterways and makes up 80 percent of fish biomass in the Murray Darling Basin,” Pyne said in an announcement, according to The Guardian.
The Guardian said that the government hopes the Australia carp-herpes project will 95 percent of the river’s carp population over the next three decades.