CDC gives state $1 million for Pfiesteria study Grant part of $7 million to monitor outbreaks

March 18, 1998|By SUN NATIONAL STAFF

WASHINGTON -- Maryland will receive more than $1 million this year from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for the study of Pfiesteria, the microscopic organism that was blamed last summer for the deaths of tens of thousands of fish and for hundreds of ailments among people who work along the state's waterways.

The money is part of an overall $7 million CDC package earmarked for Pfiesteria in a House appropriations bill in September by Rep. Steny H. Hoyer, a Democrat from Southern Maryland. Reps. Wayne T. Gilchrest of the Eastern Shore and Michael N. Castle of Delaware, both Republicans, co-sponsored the measure.

"This money and the leadership from the Centers for Disease Control is an important step in our region's ability to understand and fight this terrible environmental disease and the impact it has on humans who are in contact with it," Hoyer said in a statement.

The size of the grant, announced last night, is larger than that given to any other state for the outbreaks, which researchers say have occurred in several coastal mid-Atlantic states. Delaware, Florida, North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia will receive money.

State officials intend to use the money to monitor watermen and other people who frequent the state's rivers and streams to see whether they show symptoms of the afflictions associated with Pfiesteria.

Pfiesteria and similar organisms are believed to become toxic when they encounter phosphorus and certain other pollutants.

"Maryland was the first state to recognize that Pfiesteria has implications for public health," Gov. Parris N. Glendening said last night through a spokeswoman. "Our congressional delegation supported us every step of the way."

Pub Date: 3/18/98

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