Whirling disease confirmed

On August 23, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) confirmed the presence of whirling disease in fish from Johnson Lake in Banff National Park. This is the first occurrence of whirling disease in Canada confirmed by the CFIA under its responsibilities for aquatic animal health.

While awaiting laboratory test results, Parks Canada implemented initial containment measures to reduce any risk of the potential spread of the disease, including an Area Closure for Johnson Lake on August 18, 2016. This included two shoreline beach areas, the marsh flowing into the lake, and the outlets flowing out of Johnson Lake. The Area Closure remains in effect until further notice.

This disease is not harmful to humans but can have a significant impact on some fish populations. It can be transmitted to other water bodies through fish and fish parts, and gear or equipment used for swimming, paddling, boating and fishing.

Parks Canada is collaborating with the Province of Alberta and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency to sample watersheds inside and outside of the park to determine whether the disease is present in other areas. This will allow for the continued development and implementation of an appropriate response plan. Parks Canada is also working closely with Alberta Environment and Parks to ensure any further detection is met with a swift and coordinated response.

Parks Canada would like to remind visitors that fish and fish parts caught while fishing should be properly disposed of and that all equipment and gear such as boats, trailers, waders, boots, float tubes, and fins should be cleaned both before and after recreating in any body of water. Rinse all mud and debris from equipment and gear, drain water from boats before leaving an area, and allow all equipment and gear to dry before entering another water body. By doing so, visitors can help to protect the ecological integrity of national parks.


Reducing the risk of spreading whirling disease

Anglers, boaters and recreational water users can help reduce the risk of spreading whirling disease.

This disease is not harmful to humans or other mammals but can have significant effects on some fish populations. It can be transmitted from infected locations to other water bodies through equipment used for swimming, paddling, boating, water pumping, and fishing or through infected fish and fish parts themselves. In order of potential risk, from highest to lowest, it is the movement of fish, mud or sediment, and water that can spread whirling disease.

More on aquatic invasive species rules and regulations

Aquatic invasive species sightings in Banff National Park can be reported to: llykaisprevention-eaeprevention@pc.gc.ca.

Sightings outside of the national parks can be reported to: 1-855-336-2628 (BOAT) in Alberta and 1-888-933-3722 in British Columbia.