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The West Coast Center for Oceans and Human Health: enhancing early warning systems for marine biotoxins and pathogens using climate information

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Tuesday, 25 January 2011: 11:30 AM
The West Coast Center for Oceans and Human Health: enhancing early warning systems for marine biotoxins and pathogens using climate information
4C-2 (Washington State Convention Center)
Mark S. Strom, NOAA Fisheries Service, Seattle, WA; and V. L. Trainer, S. K. Moore, R. N. Paranjpye, and L. D. Rhodes

The NOAA One Ocean, One Health Initiative reflects the paradigm that overall environmental health encompasses human, animal, and ecosystem health. Climate variability and climate change play an important role in these complex interrelationships. Increasingly, evidence is emerging to suggest that climate plays an important role in outbreaks of some marine biotoxins and pathogens that impact the health of humans and marine mammals and the functioning of healthy ecosystems. The West Coast Center for Oceans and Human Health in Seattle, Washington, is committed to identifying these relationships and incorporating them into health early warning systems (HEWS). Harmful algal blooms (HABs) in the inland coastal marine waters of Washington State including Puget Sound, and on the outer Washington coast, sometimes produce biotoxins that accumulate in fish and shellfish and cause illness or death in humans if consumed. Climate processes can create oceanographic conditions that are favorable for the growth and development of toxic HABs and/or transport them to coastal regions where they can contact humans. Changes in climatic and other environmental variables in the Puget Sound region may also influence the prevalence and virulence of human pathogens in the marine environment. In one example, changes in environmental factors are suspected to have contributed to a significant increase in the number of cases of gastroenteritis from the consumption of raw oysters harboring the pathogen Vibrio parahaemolyticus. Climate-driven changes in these environmental factors may select strains of V. parahaemolyticus that have an increased ability to cause infections. In another example, surveys of the exhaled breath of the Pacific Northwest's Southern Resident population of Killer Whales (SRKW) has revealed a surprising number of bacteria with multi-drug resistance and several human pathogens. Climate change is likely to alter the types and abundance of pathogenic microbes and SRKW susceptibility. And finally, marine bacterial and archeal communities that are responsible for significant carbon and nitrogen turnover, as well as recycling of nutrients into food webs, can be profoundly impacted by climate and other environmental perturbations. By adopting a One Ocean, One Health approach, we are unraveling the intricate relationships between climate and the health of humans, marine mammals, and the marine ecosystem. These relationships are being used to inform and improve HEWS for marine biotoxins and pathogens.