Fish Health Center
Fisheries Resources
Pacific Region
 

Fish Health Program: Learn About Fish Diseases

Fish, like humans and other animals, are subject to a variety of diseases.  These include environmental and nutritional diseases as well as infectious diseases  caused by bacteria, viruses, or parasites.  Under natural conditions, fish are exposed to diseases and sometimes get sick or die. Hatchery fish are exposed to the same diseases as fish in the wild but they may be more susceptible because the  fish are closer together or because environmental conditions in the hatchery may not be the same as in their natural environment.   Fish Health Center personnel work with hatchery personnel to help reduce stressful conditions and prevent disease outbreaks. Fish health center staff may also recommend treatments such as antibiotics and vaccines but these methods are only used when there is no other way to save the lives of the fish. 
Bacterial Kidney Disease Some infectious diseases are common in the wild fish and waters of the Pacific Northwest and are occasionally seen on hatcheries:
  • Bacterial kidney disease (Renibacterium salmoninarum) (image)
  • Coldwater disease (info; image)
  • Furunculosis (image)
  • Protozoan parasites (image)
  • Water molds (image)

Other infectious diseases are present, but relatively rare, and we work very hard to prevent their introduction and movement:

  • Whirling disease (info: image)
  • Infectious Haematopoietic Necrosis (IHN) virus (info; image)
  • Pacific Northwest strain, Viral Haemorrhagic Septicaemia (VHS) virus (info; image)

There are also infectious diseases, very rare or not known to be present in the region, that we look for and do all that we can to prevent their introduction:
  • Infectious Pancreatic Necrosis (IPN) virus (info; image)
  • Infectious Salmon Anaemia (ISA) virus (info; image)
  • Oncorhynchus masou Virus (OMV) disease (info; image)
  • Great Lakes and European strains of VHS virus (info; image)

We also monitor for and work to prevent certain non-infectious diseases which can pose fish health challenges:
  • Gas bubble disease (image)
  • Sunburn (image)
  • Coagulated yolk disease (info)

Other resources for fish diseases and pathogens that affect the health of Pacific Northwest fish:

  • Fishpathogens.net (non-USFWS site: sponsored by the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, and Oregon State University)

About Our Program

The Pacific Region's Fish Heath Program protects the health of salmon propagated at the region's network of 15 National Fish Hatcheries and tribal partner programs. Our veterinarians and biologists--located in three Fish Health Centers located in Olympia, Washington, Orofino, Idaho, and Willard, Washington--assist partners across the Pacific Northwest with fish health issues and conduct the National Wild Fish Health Survey. Dr. Andrew E. Goodwin manages the program.


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