In exploring links between climate change and human illness, significant attention has been given to the potential impact of such change on harmful algal bloom (HAB) populations and the illnesses that they cause. Among the various HAB-related human diseases, ciguatera has the greatest public health and economic impact, with recent studies from French Polynesia linking ciguatera incidence with increasing seawater temperatures: as such, ciguatera may serve as a key """"""""sentinel"""""""" disease for global warming. We are proposing to build on the approach used in the South Pacific climate/ciguatera studies, but with a shift in focus to the Caribbean and """"""""Caribbean ciguatera,"""""""" taking advantage of our long-standing base for epidemiologic and environmental studies in the U.S. Virgin Islands. We hypothesize that climatic disturbances/disruptions of reef areas result in overgrowth of species of the dinoflagellate Gambierdiscus, with subsequent, and predictable, increases in fish toxicity and ciguatera incidence in endemic areas. To explore this hypothesis, we are proposing 1) to identify and characterize hospital and clinic-based ciguatera cases on St. Thomas and St. John;and to conduct cross-sectional surveys to develop accurate community-based estimates of disease incidence. As a second component of the study, we will monitor Gambierdiscus populations at sentinel sites around St. Thomas, looking at dinoflagellate distribution, abundance, and population structure;and collect data on toxin concentrations and structural diversity in dinoflagellates, locally caught fish, and fish/fish remnants implicated as the cause of ciguatera cases. Finally, we will seek to correlate weather patterns, including, in particular, the Atlantic Warm Pool, with prospective dinoflagellate population data, and prospective and retrospective disease incidence data;and to develop predictive models for occurrence of illness in human populations. The project explores the hypothesis that climatic disturbances/disruptions of reef areas result in overgrowth of species of the dinoflagellate Gambierdiscus, with subsequent, and predictable, increases in fish toxicity and incidence of ciguatera fish poisoning in endemic areas. The study will be performed on the islands of St. Thomas and St. John, U.S. Virgin Islands;data will be collected on ciguatera incidence, and on dinoflagellate populations implicated as the source of the toxins that cause the disease.

Public Health Relevance

The project explores the hypothesis that climatic disturbances/disruptions of reef areas result in overgrowth of species of the dinoflagellate Gambierdiscus, with subsequent, and predictable, increases in fish toxicity and incidence of ciguatera fish poisoning in endemic areas. The study will be performed on the islands of St. Thomas and St. John, U.S. Virgin Islands;data will be collected on ciguatera incidence, and on dinoflagellate populations implicated as the source of the toxins that cause the disease.

Agency
National Institute of Health (NIH)
Institute
National Center for Environmental Health (NCEH)
Type
Research Project--Cooperative Agreements (U01)
Project #
5U01EH000421-03
Application #
8143429
Study Section
Special Emphasis Panel (ZEH1-FXR (02))
Program Officer
Mehta, Paul
Project Start
2009-09-30
Project End
2012-09-29
Budget Start
2011-09-30
Budget End
2012-09-29
Support Year
3
Fiscal Year
2011
Total Cost
$270,000
Indirect Cost
Name
University of Florida
Department
Internal Medicine/Medicine
Type
Schools of Medicine
DUNS #
969663814
City
Gainesville
State
FL
Country
United States
Zip Code
32611
Lopez, Maria-Cecilia; Ungaro, Ricardo F; Baker, Henry V et al. (2016) Gene Expression Patterns in Peripheral Blood Leukocytes in Patients with Recurrent Ciguatera Fish Poisoning: Preliminary Studies. Harmful Algae 57:35-38
Xu, Yixiao; Richlen, Mindy L; Liefer, Justin D et al. (2016) Influence of Environmental Variables on Gambierdiscus spp. (Dinophyceae) Growth and Distribution. PLoS One 11:e0153197
Radke, Elizabeth G; Reich, Andrew; Morris Jr, John Glenn (2015) Epidemiology of Ciguatera in Florida. Am J Trop Med Hyg 93:425-32
Robertson, Alison; Garcia, Ana C; Quintana, Harold A Flores et al. (2014) Invasive lionfish (Pterois volitans): a potential human health threat for ciguatera fish poisoning in tropical waters. Mar Drugs 12:88-97
Radke, Elizabeth G; Grattan, Lynn M; Morris, John Glenn (2013) Association of cardiac disease and alcohol use with the development of severe ciguatera. South Med J 106:655-7
Radke, Elizabeth G; Grattan, Lynn M; Cook, Robert L et al. (2013) Ciguatera incidence in the US Virgin Islands has not increased over a 30-year time period despite rising seawater temperatures. Am J Trop Med Hyg 88:908-13