Columnaris Disease


Commonly Infected Wildlife

Fish and shellfish (including mussels). Young catfish and trout are the most commonly reported species.

Is This Animal Infected?

Depending on the species of fish, the affected skin may have pale patches and/or a characteristic sore or lesion shaped like a saddle across the dorsal fin or other areas along the back.

Pale gray or yellow slime may also be present on the skin, gills, and/or fins.

Can I Get It?

No. There is no known transfer to humans.

How Bad Can It Get? 

Humans are not at risk for columnaris.

Symptoms in Humans

None. People are not at risk. 

Fish with signs of columnaris
Joe Newton, Auburn University

Protect Myself and Others

Consume fish fillets like any other, by properly cleaning, preparing, and thoroughly cooking the fish to an internal temperature of 145°F.

Safe for Pets?

Yes. There is no known health risk when fish are properly cooked.

What Causes It?

This disease is caused by the bacterium Flavobacterium columnare. This bacterium proliferates most often during warm weather.

Other species of Flavobacterium can affect the gills and tail of trout during cold weather.