UPSTATE, S.C. (WSPA) – Whirling disease has been found in two Upstate counties for the first time in four streams, according to the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources.

DNR said the samples came from Pickens and Greenville Counties. This disease causes damage to cartilage and skeletal tissue in trouts and causes them to swim in a “whirling motion.”

While whirling disease is not harmful to humans, this disease has caused high trout mortalities in hatchery systems and in wild trout, particularly in Western streams. There is no practical way to eliminate this pathogen. While the pathogen is now documented in South Carolina, it is positive news that it has not been observed to cause the classic disease symptoms here or seen to cause observable population declines. It appears rare that this pathogen manifests as full-on whirling disease in Southern Appalachian freestone streams, like we have in South Carolina.

Ross Self, S.C. Department of Natural Resources (SCDNR) chief of freshwater fisheries
  • whirling disease sample map (Source: South Carolina Department of Natural Resources)
  • Trout
  • Trout
  • Trout

A recent fish health inspection at Walhalla State Fish Hatchery in Oconee County was negative for whirling disease and other new exotic pathogens, DNR said.

This was documented by SC DNR’s Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries and Southeastern Fish Disease Cooperative at Auburn University.