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Tallahassee, FL, United States

Radke E.G.,University of Florida | Reich A.,Aquatic Toxins Program | Morris J.G.,Aquatic Toxins Program
American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene | Year: 2015

Ciguatera is the most commonly reported marine food-borne illness worldwide. Because there is a biological plausibility that ciguatera may be impacted by long-term climate variability and Florida is on the northern border of the geographic distribution of ciguatera, it is important to update our understanding of its epidemiology in Florida. We performed an analysis of 291 reports in Florida from 2000 to 2011 and an e-mail survey of 5,352 recreational fishers to estimate incidence and underreporting and identify high risk demographic groups, fish types, and catch locations. Incidence was 5.6 per 100,000 adjusted for underreporting. Hispanics had the highest incidence rate (relative risk [RR] = 3.4) and were more likely to eat barracuda than non-Hispanics. The most common catch locations for ciguatera-causing fish were the Bahamas and Florida Keys. Cases caused by fish from northern Florida were infrequent. These results indicate that ciguatera incidence is higher than estimated from public health reports alone. There is little evidence that incidence or geographic range has increased because of increased seawater temperatures since earlier studies. © 2015 by The American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene. Source

Kirkpatrick B.,Mote Marine Laboratory | Kirkpatrick B.,University of Miami | Kohler K.,Mote Marine Laboratory | Byrne M.,University of Miami | And 8 more authors.
Science of the Total Environment | Year: 2014

To mitigate the damages of natural hazards, policy responses can be beneficial only if they are effective. Using a self-administered survey approach, this paper focuses on the adherence to local fertilizer ordinances (i.e., county or municipal rules regulating the application of fertilizer to private lawns or facilities such as golf courses) implemented in jurisdictions along the Southwest Florida coast in response to hazardous blooms of Florida red tides (Karenia brevis). These ordinances play a role in the context of evolving programs of water pollution control at federal, state, water basin, and local levels. With respect to policy effectiveness, while the strength of physical linkages is of critical importance, the extent to which humans affected are aware of and adhere to the relevant rules, is equally critical. We sought to understand the public's depth of understanding about the rationales for local fertilizer ordinances. Respondents in Sarasota, Florida, were asked about their fertilizer practices in an area that has experienced several major blooms of Florida red tides over the past two decades. A highly educated, older population of 305 residents and "snowbirds" reported relatively little knowledge about a local fertilizer ordinance, its purpose, or whether it would change the frequency, size, or duration of red tides. This finding held true even among subpopulations that were expected to have more interest in or to be more knowledgeable about harmful algal blooms. In the face of uncertain science and environmental outcomes, and with individual motivations at odds with evolving public policies, the effectiveness of local community efforts to decrease the impacts of red tides may be compromised. Targeted social-science research on human perceptions about the risks of Florida red tides and education about the rationales for potential policy responses are warranted. © 2014 Elsevier B.V. Source

Hoagland P.,Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution | Jin D.,Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution | Beet A.,Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution | Kirkpatrick B.,Mote Marine Laboratory | And 6 more authors.
Environment International | Year: 2014

Human respiratory and digestive illnesses can be caused by exposures to brevetoxins from blooms of the marine alga Karenia brevis, also known as Florida red tide (FRT). K. brevis requires macro-nutrients to grow; although the sources of these nutrients have not been resolved completely, they are thought to originate both naturally and anthropogenically. The latter sources comprise atmospheric depositions, industrial effluents, land runoffs, or submerged groundwater discharges. To date, there has been only limited research on the extent of human health risks and economic impacts due to FRT. We hypothesized that FRT blooms were associated with increases in the numbers of emergency room visits and hospital inpatient admissions for both respiratory and digestive illnesses. We sought to estimate these relationships and to calculate the costs of associated adverse health impacts. We developed environmental exposure-response models to test the effects of FRT blooms on human health, using data from diverse sources. We estimated the FRT bloom-associated illness costs, using extant data and parameters from the literature. When controlling for resident population, a proxy for tourism, and seasonal and annual effects, we found that increases in respiratory and digestive illnesses can be explained by FRT blooms. Specifically, FRT blooms were associated with human health and economic effects in older cohorts (≥. 55. years of age) in six southwest Florida counties. Annual costs of illness ranged from $60,000 to $700,000 annually, but these costs could exceed $1.0. million per year for severe, long-lasting FRT blooms, such as the one that occurred during 2005. Assuming that the average annual illness costs of FRT blooms persist into the future, using a discount rate of 3%, the capitalized costs of future illnesses would range between $2 and 24. million.© 2014 Elsevier Ltd. Source

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