Tuesday, 25 January 2011: 12:15 PM
4C-2 (Washington State Convention Center)
Changes in climate and weather conditions have been shown to influence outbreaks of pathogenic bacteria and marine biotoxins in the Puget Sound region. These outbreaks contaminate seafood, predominantly shellfish, and threaten the health of humans and marine mammals. Traditional management strategies have relied on the monitoring of shellfish for the presence of pathogens and biotoxins and if concentrations exceeded levels deemed unsafe for human consumption the fishery was closed. By incorporating climate and weather forecasts into early warning systems, public health managers are able to make proactive management decisions ahead of time to protect human health. This approach was first applied in this region to improve risk assessments of harmful algal blooms that produce biotoxins; however, we also suspect that changes to climate and weather conditions contributed to a significant increase in the number of cases of gastroenteritis from the consumption of raw oysters harboring the pathogen Vibrio parahaemolyticus. This talk will discuss the role of climate and weather forecasts in health early warning systems in Puget Sound and present new research suggesting that a climate-driven window of opportunity may exist that selects for outbreaks of pathogenic Vibrio parahaemolyticus.
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