Pfiesteria and human health Physicians' study: Scientific article describes illness tied to microbe-infested waters.

August 15, 1998

AT LAST there are scientific believers in the debilitating effects on humans of Pfiesteria piscicida, the "cell from hell" that has plagued Eastern Shore rivers with scary fish kills for nearly two years.

A new report by 13 Maryland doctors in The Lancet medical journal confirms the link between the harmful microorganism and human health effects, principally temporary loss of memory and learning capabilities. The team tested and studied persons who had contact with infested waters last summer and who blamed their illnesses on the microbe.

When a Lower Shore physician claimed last year that several of his patients were sick from water contact with Pfiesteria, he was criticized by skeptical scientists.

The comprehensive state medical study that began last August finally defined and described the clinical effects on humans of Pfiesteria. The published study will help health professionals to diagnose and treat patients.

Meanwhile, summer monitoring for Pfiesteria in suspect tributaries has not found significant outbreaks. This year, Maryland and other mid-Atlantic states will be better prepared to meet this insidious threat to fish and humans.

Pub Date: 8/15/98

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