North State fish hatcheries quarantined after parasite discovered

Jun 5, 2015 1:04 PM by News Staff

Three million trout at two North State fish hatcheries are under quarantine after California Department of Fish and Wildlife specialists detected a possibly fatal disease in some of the fish.

During routine hatchery and fish health checks, CDFW fisheries pathologists found that captive-raised fish at the Darrah Springs Trout Hatchery, located in the Battle Creek watershed east of Redding, tested positive for whirling disease.

Prior to the discovery, trout were transferred from an infected raceway at Darrah Springs to Mt. Shasta Hatchery. While fish transferred to Mt. Shasta Hatchery from Darrah Springs Hatchery tested positive for the parasite, it is yet unknown if biological and environmental conditions allowed it to complete its lifecycle at that location.

Whirling disease is a parasite that destroys cartilage on the vertebrae of trout and salmon. It can be fatal to fish, but does not affect humans or other wildlife.

Additionally, CDFW officials say trout and salmon that test positive for the parasite are still safe for human consumption and will be euthanized and donated to local food banks.

Until testing is complete the exact number of fish exposed to and infected with the disease is unknown. Once the infected fish are euthanized, the latest scientific techniques will be used to cleanse the impacted areas of the hatcheries, confirm the impacted water sources are whirling disease-free and bring the facilities back to production status as soon as possible.

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