Jun 30, 2016

CDC Launches Harmful Algal Blooms Website & Reporting System

New tools educate general public & CDC partners

Algal bloom, health effects, CDC

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) launched a new website to educate partners and the general public on harmful algal blooms (HABs) and a voluntary reporting system.

Some algal blooms—or the overgrowth of algae and cyanobacteria—on rivers, lakes and oceans can produce toxins that can cause illness in animals and humans, contaminate drinking water or seafood, or damage the local environment.

HABs are an emerging public health issue. In recent years, toxin-producing HABs have caused the shutdown of the water supply of a major U.S. city, resulted in massive fish die offs, and sickened hundreds of people and animals with a variety of skin, breathing, stomach and intestinal symptoms. Because animals are more likely to swim or drink from water that may contain an HAB, they are often the first affected when one occurs. Therefore, it is important to understand the possible health effects before swimming, fishing, or letting pets drink or play in suspicious-looking water.

The new website contains information about:

  • HABs;
  • Illnesses and symptoms related to being exposed to HABs;
  • Sources of exposures and risk factors;
  • Prevention and control; and
  • HABs and the environment.

The website also includes publications on HABs and a toolkit to help public health partners communicate the effects of HABs.

To understand the frequency, severity and health effects of HABs, CDC and its partners developed the One Health Harmful Algal Bloom System (OHHABS), a new reporting system accessible to state and territorial public health departments and their designated environmental or animal health partners to report HAB-associated human and animal cases of illness, as well as environmental data about HABs. Visit the OHHABS web page to learn more.

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