Whirling Disease Is Fortunately Not a Permanent Condition
Whirling disease caused by Myxobolus cerebralis is a scourge for fish culturists and salmonid biologists, and rumors have circulated for decades that its myxospores remain viable for years. Nehring et al. (2015) used a carefully designed time-delay study that exposed susceptible oligochaetes to myxospores and then measured production of actinospores as evidence of myxospore viability. We might mention that the whirling disease organism has a complicated life cycle involving both a salmonid and an oligchaete Tubifex tubifex as well as life stages that are difficult to pronounce. They found that spore viability decreased by about 75% after 15 days and was negligible after 180 days. Continuing the experiment, no spores were viable after one year. Whirling disease is still an issue, but reinfections of salmonids are caused by current events and not by viable myxospores that have remained dormant for years or even decades. This is good news for culturists who have worried about this issue for years.
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Nehring, R.B., Schisler, G., Chiaramonte, L., Horton, A. and Poole, B., 2015. Assessment of the Long-Term Viability of the Myxospores of Myxobolus cerebralis as Determined by Production of the Actinospores by Tubifex tubifex. Journal of aquatic animal health, 27(1), pp.50-56. dx.doi.org/10.1080/08997659.2014.976671