Language of Koi – New KHV Vaccine – Hobbyists’ Questions

Published on July 1, 2012

Japanese Friendship Garden, San Diego, photo by Cindy Graham
Japanese Friendship Garden, San Diego, photo by Cindy Graham

KHA Preventive Treatment ~ an interview with Julius M. Tepper, DVM

Doc Tepper has been part of the development team for Cavoy, a new vaccine approved for the prevention of Koi Herpes Virus (KHV), along with six other aquatic vets. The following is a list of “hobbyist” questions Doc Tepper was kind enough to answer.

Hobbyist: Is this an injection? What kind – where on the fish should it be injected. All those kinds of steps. Is it a series of shots or just one?…

Doc: It is an immersion vaccine. Fish are placed into a tank or vat and the vaccine is added to the water, so there is no injection or vaccination required to protect your fish using this vaccine (unless administered by a vet).

Hobbyist: How long does it last? Do you need to do booster shots in a couple of years?

Doc: It is labeled to be valid for one year. Yearly “boosters” will be needed to fully protect your fish.

Hobbyist: I don’t buy new fish should I still treat the ones I have?

Doc: If you go to shows, have an outside service care for your fish or have any risk of contamination, one should vaccinate to protect your stock.

Hobbyist: Should I only vaccinate new fish that I buy?

Doc: High-grade koi will probably be vaccinated by the seller. One should now request a vaccination certification when buying new koi.

Hobbyist: If I only vaccinate new fish, can my original fish get KHV from the vaccinated fish?

Doc: No. Safety was a major concern that was tested at
UC Davis Veterinary School.

Hobbyist: Can my koi dealer vaccinate them before I bring it home?

Doc: High quality retailers will probably be doing this in conjunction with their veterinarian.

Hobbyist: How do I get the vaccinations? Do I have to get it through a licensed Vet?

Doc: Yes, this vaccine is a strict veterinary biological, so can only be purchased and administered by a licensed veterinarian.

Hobbyist: What about handling the vaccine, do I need to wear gloves? Any special precautions?

Doc: The vet will handle the administration.

Hobbyist: How long did it take to develop the vaccine?

Doc: Research has been ongoing for years.

Hobbyist: Does it work 100% of the time?

Doc: The vaccine provides a very high degree of protection against virulent strains of KHV. It should be considered as effective as other veterinary vaccines are for dogs, cats, and so forth.

Hobbyist: How long has it been in testing?

Doc: At least 3 years under the direction of Dr. Scott Weber at the UC Davis Veterinary School.

Hobbyist: Are there any known negative reactions?

Doc: Only in very small koi, less than a year old. Labeling includes instructions to vaccinate only koi of a certain size. It’s not likely this will present an issue except for breeders.

Hobbyist: How much will it cost?

Doc: Cost will probably be about $500-$600 for the average koi pond. This assumes that the koi will all be set-up and ready to do. If the vet has to help capture the koi or stand around and wait while they are being caught, cost could be twice that. However, the alternative for koi at risk is to lose the whole pond to KHV…. what is that worth?

For more information, see This medication is made by Novartis.

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