Fish health team
- To protect and improve the health of aquatic animal populations by providing health inspections and certifications in accordance with Fish Health Policy Board requirements. Facilities that receive certification are legally allowed to transport fish/fish eggs within the State of Utah. The current fish approval list can be found here.
- To provide diagnostic services for the identification, treatment and management of pathogens and other health related problems which arise in hatcheries, institutional aquaculture facilities and in wild/feral fish populations.
- To monitor pathogens of interest, such as Myxobolus cerebralis (the causative agent of whirling disease), to help document impacts on fish populations around the State. An interactive whirling disease distribution map can be found here.
The Fish Health Team is specially trained in providing the following services in aquatic animal health:
- Molecular technology
Additional administrative services include:
- Providing recommendations to the Fish Health Policy Board
- Managing intra/interstate movement of aquatic animals
- Collaborating with aquatic professionals, agencies, universities, private entities, organizations and interested stakeholders
- American Fisheries Society Fish Health Section–Laboratory Quality Assurance Program
In addition to laboratory services, the Aquatic Animal Health and Research Center (formerly the Fisheries Experiment Station) provides recommendations and reports pathogen findings to the Fish Health Policy Board. We help to manage intra/interstate movement of aquatic animals through risk assessment of imports, review of aquatic animal health testing results and confirmation of regulatory requirements compliance. In order to maintain strong ties within the aquatic animal health and scientific communities, we collaborate with aquatic professionals, agencies, universities, private entities and other interested stakeholders. AAHRC has also recently begun working with the American Fisheries Society Fish Health Section to gain recognition through the Laboratory Quality Assurance Program.
Collaboration between the AAHRC fish health and research teams is ongoing and helps to contribute to the understanding of fish pathogens, impacts of management strategies and new/changing technologies. Research findings are used to provide recommendations for informed science based management decisions.
Work with regional biologists and hatchery managers focuses on aquatic animal health, husbandry practices, disinfection strategies, treatment options and management strategies. Knowledge gained through this effort allows the DWR Aquatics Section to monitor and improving the condition of fish stocks throughout the State.
Cristi Swan is an American Fisheries Society-certified Aquatic Animal Health Inspector, and is the Fish Health Specialist and team leader for the Fish Health Section at the AAHRC. Prior to taking the Fish Health Specialist position, she was in charge ofthe AAHRC's bacteriology and vaccine projects. Cristi earned both her B.S. and M.S. degrees from the University of Idaho in fisheries resources with a focus on fish health. Her master's work focused on the identification of a localized mucosal immune response in rainbow trout and purification of IgM and other proteins from serum and mucus of rainbow trout. She also holds A.S. degrees in water quality, parks management and forestry.
Danielle Van Vliet is a Fish Health Microbiologist at the AAHRC. Danielle earned both her B.S. (2011) and Ph.D. (2016) from the Fisheries and Wildlife Department at Michigan State University. Danielle's graduate work focused on the epidemiology of Flavobacterium psychrophilum infections in the Great Lakes and beyond. passion took her to Utah to continue aquatic animal health work, where she conducts fish health inspections, assists in diagnostics services, and uses traditional laboratory methods (microscopy, bacteriology, gross pathology, cell culture, etc.) and molecular techniques (DNA extractions, PCR, etc.) to test for prohibited pathogens here in the state. Danielle has been a member of the American Fisheries Society–Fish Health Section since 2011, and has a major interest in fish health management as a whole, and particularly F. psychrophilum control strategies. She also enjoys teaching, sharing her passions, and inspiring the next generation of scientists, as well as fishing, kayaking, camping, and spending time with her dog, three cats, eight chickens and pet snake.
Alison Aceves Johnson is a microbiologist at the AAHRC working with parasitology, bacteriology, virology and PCR. Alison earned her B.S. in marine science at California State University, Monterey Bay, and her M.S. in fisheries and allied aquacultures at Auburn University. Alison's graduate work focused on characterizing the gut bacterial communities ('microbiome') of freshwater mussels using next generation sequencing. Before Alison's position at the AAHRC, she was a Biological Science Lab Technician for the USDA ARS Aquatic Animal Health Research Unit in Auburn, Alabama. She also enjoys fishing, hiking, gardening and spending time with her cat.
Anna Forest is an American Fisheries Society-certified Aquatic Animal Health Inspector and microbiologist at the AAHRC. Anna earned a B.S. in marine biology and an M.S. in wildlife and fisheries sciences from Texas A&M University at Galveston. Prior to taking on the microbiologist position, Anna was the Aquaculture Program Manager at the Utah Department of Agriculture and Food (2014–22), and a microbiologist for the DWR (2002–14). Her duties at the AAHRC consist of performing annual inspections to detect prohibited pathogens at hatcheries and wild sites using traditional laboratory methods (microscopy, bacteriology, gross pathology, cell culture, etc.) and molecular techniques (DNA extractions, PCR, etc.), and assisting in identifying causative agents in diagnostic cases.