Partner Spotlight

Whirling Disease Initiative
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The Whirling Disease Initiative was established by Congress in 1997 to conduct research that will lead to practical methods of managing wild trout fisheries.

From 1997 - 2007, the Initiative funded more than 120 projects conducted by university members, public agency scientists, and private firms with great success. Researchers have described this parasite's complex life cycle and have investigated factors that influence its spread.

Because eradication of whirling disease is unlikely, the Initiative is focusing its efforts in the areas of disease management and control of its spread.

Whirling Disease Maps & Data

The whirling disease parasite Myxobolus cerebralis has infected Salmonid fish in 25 states. It was first detected in the United States in the 1950s, and whirling disease attracted national attention in the 1990s when it was linked to significant declines in trout populations in the Intermountain West.

The Mountain Prairie Information Node partnered with the Whirling Disease Initiative and the Big Sky Institute to create and provide access to online resources for fisheries professionals and anglers. These resources provide unparalleled access to geospatial and research data related to whirling disease. Due to the severe effects of whirling disease on wild trout and fish hatcheries in the Western U.S., these states are the initial focus of these online resources.

The interactive map and static maps are the most comprehensive and current mapping resources of M. cerebralis detection data available anywhere. Data stored in the Data Repository are the only publicly-available whirling disease research data.

Whirling Disease Interactive Map screenshot The new interactive map displays the whirling disease parasite's known distribution in the United States. All data were acquired through cooperation with state and federal agencies. This project is still under construction and new states will be added over time.
Idaho whirling disease Static maps show locations where the whirling disease parasite has been detected, and are available now for the states Montana, Utah, Idaho, and Wyoming. Maps are in development for additional states.
Whirling Disease Initiative Data Repository The Data Repository is a comprehensive research database of metadata and datasets from research funded by the Whirling Disease Initiative. Users can browse projects, search the database, and download datasets and metadata.

Myxobolus cerebralis Myxospores

Myxobolus cerebralis myxospores
[Photo: Author Unknown]

What is Whirling Disease?

Whirling disease affects fish in the trout and salmon family. By damaging cartilage, whirling disease can kill young fish directly, or cause infected fish to swim in an uncontrolled whirling motion. This can make it impossible for them to escape predators or to effectively seek food.

Whirling disease is caused by a microscopic parasite called Myxobolus cerebralis. The parasite was introduced to the United States from Europe in the 1950s and has spread to many streams across the United States.

Learn more about whirling disease.

Source: The Whirling Disease Initiative

Learn About Wildlife Disease

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The NBII Wildlife Disease Information Node is a collaborative project working to provide access to data on wildlife diseases, mortality events, and other critical information related to wildlife diseases. The audience is state and federal resource managers, animal disease specialists, veterinary diagnostic laboratories, physicians, public health workers, educators, and the general public.

Visit the Wildlife Disease Node to learn more about avian influenza, chronic wasting disease, West Nile Virus, and other diseases organized by species and type. Or, explore the Wildlife Health Monitoring Network, try the interactive maps, or search related publications.

The NBII Program is administered by the Biological Informatics Program of the U.S. Geological Survey
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