North Saskatchewan River Infected by whirling disease

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) has confirmed the presence of whirling disease in the North Saskatchewan River watershed in Alberta.

According to the agency, the watersheds of the Bow River, Oldman River and Red Deer River are also already affected.

The Government states, however, that all fish in the affected areas are not contaminated by the disease.

Friday’s statement gives the federal government a role in the fight against trout disease in Canada.

A fish was first detected with the disease at Johnson Lake in Banff National Park in 2016 , but the disease subsequently spread to several watersheds in southern Alberta.

Peter Giamberardino, coordinator of the provincial whirling disease program, told CBC the disease was detected in the North Saskatchewan after sampling and surveillance work conducted in 2017.

“We know that once it’s in the wild, it’s there to stay,” he said.

“So we can’t treat the disease or eradicate it, but what we can do is really prevent the spread of the disease and do our best to protect those natural trout populations that have yet to be exposed or impacted by the disease.

The name of the disease comes from the fact that fish swim in a circular fashion when they are infected. The tournis is cold water salmonids such as salmon, trout and whitefish. The disease is not harmful to humans.

The Government of Alberta encourages fishers to clean and dry their equipment to prevent the spread of the parasite that causes the disease.

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