Health officials work on standard tests to identify Pfiesteria

October 21, 1997|BY A SUN STAFF WRITER

Health officials from Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina and Delaware are trying to design a standard battery of tests to identify and evaluate potential Pfiesteria piscicida victims, said Dr. Martin P. Wasserman, Maryland's health secretary.

He said yesterday that medical teams studying the toxic microbe met last week to review the available tests so they can reach an agreement on which ones to use.

Maryland and Virginia officials have sharply disagreed about how to respond to reports of Pfiesteria-related illness.

"Instead of questioning the results of what each one of us might be doing independently," Wasserman said, "we need to find out what is the best way to get the kind of results that will answer the questions: 'Does Pfiesteria cause illness?' and 'What's the nature of that illness?' "

As of Friday, Maryland's health department had received 146 calls from people who fear they've been poisoned by Pfiesteria-like organisms. Of those, 30 have symptoms consistent with a definition of the illness crafted by state officials.

Pub Date: 10/21/97

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