Last modified: Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Fisheries Experiment Station

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Fish health > Yellow grubs | Fungused brown trout | Approval | Whirling disease

Fish health team


  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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:

  • Bacteriology
  • Virology
  • Parasitology
  • Molecular technology
  • Histology
  • Immunology
  • Serology

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, FES 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. FES 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 Fish Health and Research Teams at FES 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

Cristi Swan is the Fish Health Specialist and team leader for the Fish Health Section at FES. Prior to taking on the Fish Health Specialist position, she was in charge of bacteriology and vaccine projects at FES. She 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.

Contact Cristi by email.

Danielle Van Vliet

Danielle Van Vliet serves as the parasitologist at the Fisheries Experiment Station. 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. Danielle's passion took her to Utah to continue aquatic animal health work, where she's primarily responsible for conducting fish health inspections, Myxobolus cerebralis (causative agent of whirling disease) and Schyzocotyle acheilognathi (Asian tapeworm) testing, and assisting in diagnostic services. 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 three cats and pet snake.

Danielle Van Vliet

Brent Vuglar is our virologist at the Fisheries Experiment Station. Brent earned his B.S. in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at Michigan Technological University. There he began researching a causative gene mutation of Kidney cancer. His passion at a young age for fish and their ecosystem led him to work at Colorado Parks and Wildlife as a virologist, and optimized an assay to better detect Renibacterium salmoninarum (causative agent of bacterial kidney disease). He then went on to work as a research assistant at the University of Idaho in the College of Natural Resources assisting in the development of a Flavobacterium psychrophilum (causative agent of coldwater disease) vaccine. His passion for fish health and management of watersheds has led him to help better Utah's pristine waters. In his off time, Brent is an avid fly fisherman along with other backcountry activities, and is excited to see what Utah has to offer. He also enjoys playing hockey, golfing, and taking his Labrador on hikes. Brent is excited to be a part of this new community, and culture that Utah has to offer.