Photo from Wikimedia Commons

Whirling disease warning

North Saskatchewan River watershed infected with whirling disease

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) has declared the North Saskatchewan River watershed infected with whirling disease.

The CFIA’s declaration covers all streams, creeks, lakes and rivers feeding into the North Saskatchewan River and ends at the Saskatchewan border. Today’s announcement follows earlier declarations of infection in the Bow, Oldman and Red Deer River watersheds.

Red Deer River watershed was declared last June to be infected with whirling disease.

The province has ramped up its response to whirling disease over the past year. As part of its three-point action plan, the Alberta government opened a whirling disease laboratory in Vegreville last summer. Additional staff were hired throughout the province to support education and mitigation efforts.

The province is also working with researchers at the University of Alberta to develop and validate non-lethal testing methods for the whirling disease parasite.

Areas in Alberta outside the Bow, Oldman, Red Deer and North Saskatchewan River watersheds were previously designated as buffer areas and are not affected by today’s declaration.

In Alberta, rainbow, westslope cutthroat and brook trout, as well as mountain whitefish, are most susceptible to the disease. Whirling disease has no impact on human health.

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