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  • Ray Menard

UPDATED: Whirling Disease Found in Alberta

UPDATED: North Saskatchewan River watershed declared a buffer area for whirling disease separate from the rest of Alberta that is already a buffer area

In August, 2016, whirling disease was discovered in Johnson Lake in Banff. Shortly afterward, Alberta Environment and Parks quarantined all government and commercial trout farms in Alberta and tested fish in each facility. Four of the six primary trout stocking, commercial aquaculture facilities tested positive for whirling disease. Two, including Smoky Trout Farm, tested negative and had their quarantines lifted. All government facilities tested negative.


  • August 23, 2016 - Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) testing confirmed presence of Whirling Disease in Johnson Lake, Banff AB

  • September 6, 2016 - Ministerial Order 52/2016 quarantining fish at Class A Commercial Fish Culture Facilities is issued

  • September 13, 2016 - Fish where sampled at Smoky Trout Farm (175 fish)

  • September 14, 2016 - Fish samples further processed by Alberta Environment and Parks (AEP) staff in Edmonton

  • September 20, 2016 - Samples received by British Columbia Ministry of Agriculture Health Laboratory in Abbotsford, BC

  • September 23, 2016 - Samples Tested - Negative - by British Columbia Ministry of Agriculture Laboratory

  • September 26, 2016 - Ministerial Order 52/2016 quarantining fish at Class A Commercial Fish Culture Facilities is revoked for Smoky Trout Farm

  • January 31, 2017 & February 1, 2017 - Smoky Trout Farm voluntarily submits sample of trout to the CFIA and AEP to confirm whirling disease free status.

  • February 10, 2017 - The Bow River Watershed is officially declared to be an infected area by the CFIA. The balance of Alberta is deemed to be a buffer zone.

  • February 14, 2017 - CFIA confirms that all samples from Smoky Trout Farm tested negative for whirling disease

  • March 13, 2017 - AEP confirms that Smoky Trout Farm remains free of whirling disease.

  • April 4, 2017 - CFIA confirms the Crowsnest River has tested positive for whirling disease.

  • May 1, 2017 - CFIA declares Oldman River Watershed to be an infected area.

  • May 2017 - Parks Canada implements plan to cull all fish in Johnson Lake in Banff National Park

  • May 2017 - AEP restricts stocking in select waterbodies including a number of previously stocked private ponds and lakes. A list of the suspended licence numbers can be found here.

  • June 7, 2017 - Using netting and electro-fishing, Parks Canada officials began eradicating fish from Johnson Lake near Banff this week in an effort to stop whirling disease from spreading to other bodies of water.

  • June 22, 2017 CFIA reports that three cases of whirling disease have been confirmed in the Red Deer River Basin as of June 13.

  • June 22, 2017 Province of Alberta announces opening of whirling disease testing facility in Vegreville.

  • December 22, 2017, the CFIA declared the North Saskatchewan River watershed a buffer area for whirling disease separate from the rest of Alberta that is already a buffer area.

About Whirling Disease

Whirling disease is caused by Myxobolus cerebralis, a microscopic parasite of salmonid fish, including trout, salmon and whitefish. The organism possesses a complex lifecycle that requires a salmonid fish and an aquatic-worm, Tubifex tubifex, as hosts.

Species such as rainbow trout, cutthroat trout and whitefish are particularly susceptible to whirling disease, though impacts of the disease differ among salmonid fish species and in different waterbodies.

The severity of whirling disease depends largely on the age and size of the salmonid host. Young fish are most vulnerable, with mortality rates reaching up to 90 per cent.

For information on which areas have tested positive for whirling disease please visit the CFIA website.

For more information about the disease and Alberta’s response to it see: Alberta Environment and Parks website.

#whirlingdisease #rainbowtrout #albertatroutfarm

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