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Exporting disease

Brief by Central Staff

Wildlife – December 1995 – Colorado Central Magazine

Major export?

First it was whirling disease, which now infects trout throughout Colorado.

The disease infects, and often kills, young rainbows and cutthroats, and those that survive have a tendency to swim in circles.

Apparently it all started in 1988 with fish raised at the Mt. Shavano Hatchery in Salida.

State wildlife officials have continued infected fish in infected drainages, including rivers and reservoirs in Park County.

But Park County commissioners have voted against stocking any more infected fish. This will mean a major decline the number of available fish, and perhaps dire consequences for tourist-related enterprises that cater to anglers.

But Richard Trast, a Park commissioner, says “So what? If we get 600,000 that are clean [as opposed to 1.7 million that aren’t], then we’re better off.”

Meanwhile, cattle were infected in the San Luis Valley with an outbreak of stomatitis.

The disease hit Colorado about a decade ago, and arrived this year from Texas and New Mexico.

Stomatitis causes excessive salivation and open sores on lips, tongues, and hooves. Healthy, well-fed animals can succumb quite quickly, and the resulting quarantine has closed some sale barns.

But maybe not all epidemics are real. About ten years ago, Colorado babies seemed to be suffering from an epidemic of craniosynostosis — misshaped heads.

The first cases in 1985 came from Steamboat Springs, but in 1986, nine cases were reported in Chaffee County.

But now researchers think that physicians were just too eager to diagnose it.