Pfiesteria Entry for June 16, 2009

This photo was taken in 2003 in the area where I became ill. These conditions are still present in the area, although there has been an effort to remove/reroute much of the groundwater in the area to make way for (EEK!) residential development.

I recently met a person from yet another area where the deeply disturbed environmental conditions are know to persist. I knew the health trends that go with the visible environmental indicators would surface in this area as in 2003 there was an exceptionally strong odor of the presence of the “introduced moldy substance”. The area is in the vicintiy of a very badly damaged dumpsite, which leaches into a large lake. This was finally spotted from the air, and made it into our newspapers. It had to become visible however before anyone was told this was happening. There is also marsh land in the area, as well as residential development plans.

So I knew that people in the area would develop symptoms, and sure enough here it comes. One person with scarring sores and a host of symptoms, another with nodules in the lungs that are escaping diagnosis, as well as a host of symptoms, and two sick pets.

Again, no diagnosis, no treatment, no explaination.

Aside form the mold/fungus/yeast/bacteria in the mix, some laboratory produced, there is this:

May 14, 1999 / 48(18);381

Notice to Readers: Possible Estuary-Associated Syndrome

Pfiesteria piscicida (Pp) is an estuarine dinoflagellate that has been associated with fish kill events in estuaries along the eastern seaboard and possibly with human health effects (1,2). CDC, in collaboration with other federal, state, and local government agencies and academic institutions, is conducting multistate surveillance, epidemiologic studies, and laboratory research for possible estuary-associated syndrome (PEAS), including possible Pp-related human illness.

The surveillance system tracks PEAS rather than Pp-related illness because a Pp toxin(s) has not been identified and therefore a biomarker of exposure has not been developed. Detection of Pp or fish with lesions in water has been used as evidence of suspected Pp toxin(s) (3). However, Pp has been found in waters where there were no reports of harm to fish or persons. In addition, lesions on fish can result from various biologic, physical, and environmental factors. Therefore, detecting Pp or observing fish with lesions may not be indicative of the presence of putative Pp toxin(s).

PEAS surveillance criteria resulted from a series of CDC-sponsored multistate workshops and differ from criteria developed in 1997 (3). Persons are considered to have PEAS if 1) they report developing symptoms within 2 weeks after exposure to estuarine water; 2) they report memory loss or confusion of any duration and/or three or more selected symptoms (i.e., headache, skin rash at the site of water contact, sensation of burning skin, eye irritation, upper respiratory irritation, muscle cramps, and gastrointestinal symptoms) that–with the exception of skin rash at the site of water contact and sensation of burning skin–persist for greater than or equal to 2 weeks; and 3) a health-care provider cannot identify another cause for the symptoms.

It is unclear whether persons exposed to Pp while swimming, boating, or engaging in other recreational activities in coastal waters are at risk for developing illness. PEAS is not infectious and has not been associated with eating fish or shellfish caught in waters where Pp has been found. However, persons should avoid areas with large numbers of diseased, dying, or dead fish and should promptly report the event to the state’s environmental or natural resource agency. In addition, persons should not go in or near the water in areas that are closed officially by the state and should not harvest or eat fish or shellfish from these areas. Persons who experience health problems after exposure to estuarine water, a fish-disease event, or a fish-kill site should contact their health-care provider and state or local public health agency.

Several states have established PEAS information lines: Delaware, (800) 523-3336; Florida, (888) 232-8635; Maryland, (888) 584-3110; North Carolina, (888) 823-6915; South Carolina, (888) 481-0125; and Virginia, (888) 238-6154.

Reported by: AL Hathcock, PhD, Delaware Dept of Health and Social Svcs. B Hughes, PhD, Florida Dept of Health. D Matuszak, MD, Maryland Dept of Health and Mental Hygiene. JS Cline, DDS, North Carolina Dept of Health and Human Svcs. R Ball, MD, South Carolina Dept of Health and Environmental Control. S Jenkins, VMD, Virginia Dept of Health. Health Studies Br and Surveillance Br, Div of Environmental Hazards and Health Effects, Div of Environmental Health and Laboratory Sciences, National Center for Environmental Health, CDC.


  1. Smith CG, Music SI. Pfiesteria in North Carolina: the medical inquiry continues. North Carolina Medical Journal 1998;59:216-9.
  2. Grattan LM, Oldach D, Tracy JK, et al. Learning and memory difficulties after environmental exposure to waterways containing toxin-producing Pfiesteria or Pfiesteria-like dinoflagellates. Lancet 1998;352:532-9.
  3. CDC. Results of the public health response to Pfiesteria workshop–Atlanta, Georgia, September 29-30, 1997. MMWR 1997;46:951-2.

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Page converted: 5/13/99


I had all these symptoms when I lived at the place that made me sick, but our CDC (BCCDC) refused to investigate, citing “we are not equipped to do field investigations”. I contacted a toxicologist as well as an epidemiologist to inquire about this, and was told by both that the BCCDC was lying to me, and probably already knew what was going on in my area.

I contacted the BCCDC and asked that they put in writing their decision not to investigate, and reason why in writing and send it to me. My request was denied, as was my request for an explaination as to why they would not honour my request to have their decision in writing.

It is interesting to note that in the Pacific Northwest, there is a higher per capita instance of multiple sclerosis than anywhere else in the world. I am in that beltway. I also presented with symptoms while living where I got ill that caused my doctor to fear that I was developing MS. Parkinsonism is another condition in this area that shows up in odd fashion, such as two neighbors on one street at the same time. Does that make any sense to you? It shouldn’t.

To learn more about the implications of “toxic” algae, Dr. Ritchie Shoemacker is considered one of the leading authorities on this subject:


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