New regulations aim to slow spread of Whirling Disease

After years of half-measures, the Province has finally crafted regulations to slow the spread of highly infectious whirling disease. It is now illegal to transport your watercraft with the drain plug still in place. Whirling disease spreads as boaters move infected waters or sediment to uninfected water bodies. The new regulations aim to prevent this.

The Province describes whirling disease as caused by “Myxobolus cerebralis, a microscopic parasite with a complex lifecycle that involves both juvenile fish and bottom dwelling aquatic worms as hosts. The parasite invades the head and spinal cartilage, and nervous tissue of fish. Damage to the brain stem and spinal cord results in the characteristic erratic “whirling” swimming pattern of infected subjects. When infected fish die, spores are released into the water and substrate to seek out aquatic worm hosts to repeat the cycle.” Whirling Disease is not transmissible to humans.

In December 2023, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency confirmed whirling disease in B.C.’s Columbia River Watershed. Reports regarding Whirling Disease can be emailed to 

For more information, see  Whirling Disease in B.C.

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