142nd APHA Annual Meeting and Exposition

Annual Meeting Recordings are now available for purchase

Harmful Algal Bloom Surveillance: Defining an Emerging Environmental Health Concern

142nd APHA Annual Meeting and Exposition (November 15 - November 19, 2014): http://www.apha.org/events-and-meetings/annual
Tuesday, November 18, 2014 : 2:45 PM - 3:00 PM

Emelia Wollenburg, MPH , Department of Population Health Sciences, University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health, Madison, WI
Gina LaLiberte, MS , Bureau of Science Services, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, Madison, WI
Dawn Perkins, MS , Wisconsin State Laboratory of Hygiene, Madison, WI
Mark Werner, PhD , Bureau of Environmental and Occupational Health, Wisconsin Division of Public Health, Madison, WI
Freshwater harmful algal blooms (HABs) are of increasing concern in recreational and drinking waters due to their potential public health risk. In order to assess the scope and magnitude of this problem, the Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS), the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and the Wisconsin State Laboratory of Hygiene (WI SLH) undertook a five-year surveillance effort to evaluate the public health burden of HABs.

With funding from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the interagency team developed case reporting pathways, including automated call notifications from the Wisconsin Poison Center, a web-based illness survey, direct contact with ill individuals, and referrals from partner agencies. Illness reports were reviewed by program staff to ensure they fit the case definition of a HAB-related illness and follow-up water sampling was conducted to determine environmental conditions at the time of the exposure.

Between 2009 and 2013, DHS received 144 health complaints associated with exposure to HABs. The most common illnesses were gastrointestinal distress, rash, respiratory irritation and cold-like symptoms. Cyanotoxins were detected in over 56% of the environmental samples analyzed.

Expanded outreach efforts to health-care professionals, veterinarians and local lake associations helped increase reporting of HAB-related illnesses and awareness of the potential hazard associated with algal blooms. The information gathered in this surveillance effort has helped the interagency team prioritize surveillance and outreach activities to address the public health burden of HABs and implement interventions to reduce exposures to harmful algal blooms.

Learning Areas:

Administer health education strategies, interventions and programs
Environmental health sciences

Learning Objectives:
Define freshwater harmful algal blooms and the potential threat they pose to public health Identify common routes of exposure to freshwater harmful algal blooms Describe Wisconsin's inter-agency approach to addressing freshwater harmful algal blooms

Keyword(s): Environmental Health, Water & Health

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have been the primary manager for the Wisconsin Harmful Algal Blooms program since 2009. I have a masters in public health degree from the University of Wisconsin.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.

Back to: 4318.0: Environmental Epidemiology