Research on red tide’s long-term health effects is underway

Updated: Jul. 22, 2019 at 6:23 PM EDT
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SARASOTA, Fla. (WWSB) - Congressman Vern Buchanan held a press conference at Sarasota Memorial Hospital on Monday to discuss the long-term health effects of red tide in humans.

“I had several physicians say, 'Iis there a correlation between this disease process I’m seeing and red tide?’ And my answer to them is we just don’t know,” said Dr. Kirk Voelker, Medical Director of Clinical Studies at Sarasota Memorial Hospital.

The question of how red tide is affecting humans long term is still unanswered.

“I’m frequently approached with questions about red tide and we just don’t have the information,” he said.

Last month, the U.S. House of Representatives voted in favor of funding $6.25 million to research the long-term effects of red tide, and other algae blooms on people and their health.

“We gotta bring whatever resources we need. What I’ve asked them to do is provide me the science I’ll work with you to get you the money. It won’t be just me, it’ll be a bipartisan effort,” said Rep. Vern Buchanan.

The congressman stopped made this announcement to get the ball rolling with help from SMH, Mote Marine Laboratory, and the Roskamp Institute.

“I want them to have the money, the research, provide the science, and wherever that takes us, takes us,” he said.

“Sarasota Memorial alone previous studies calculated that there is about up to a $4 million of capitalized costs of the human health problem that we have of people coming to the emergency room during red tide,” said Dr. Michael Crosby, President and CEO of MOTE Marine Laboratory.

They hope to get some answers soon.

“We’re initially looking with help of volunteers with blood levels of neurotoxins and see if that correlates of the symptoms of which they complain,” said Dr. Michael Mullan, Executive Director, The Roskamp Institute.

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