Sunday, August 28, 2016

The Invasion Of Brain Eating Amoeba, Parasites, and Red Tide

I've posted before about global warming bringing us an invasion of virus-carrying mosquitoes in Florida.

I've haven't been too worried about the Pacific Northwest, but recent events are showing that we might have as much or more to be worried about.  Last year I warned about brain-eating amoeba without being specific but it has happened in lakes near the Grand Tetons National Park in Wyoming.
A brain-eating amoeba that has killed an 11-year-old girl on Friday was detected in the Grand Teton National Park.
According to reports, the parasitic amoeba is called the Naegleria fowleri.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states the Naegleria fowleri can cause rare and devastating infection of the brain called primary amebic meningoencephalitis (PAM) when it enters the body through the nose.
Ninety-seven percent of people who contract the disease don't survive. Since 1962, 133 people in the U.S. have been infected with the disease and only three have survived.

 But that's not all.  The Yellowstone River has been closed down

LIVINGSTON, Mont. — The Yellowstone River, flowing in ribbons beneath the towering Absaroka mountains and through this small town, is usually flecked with drifting boats and rafts, sport fishermen and children jumping off bridges. But now the river, one of Montana’s premier fly-fishing destinations, is empty as wildlife officials and scientists race to contain the spread of a microscopic invader, a parasite that is deadly to fish.
Montana wildlife officials temporarily shut down almost 200 miles of the Yellowstone and its tributaries to recreation last week to prevent the parasite from spreading to other rivers, or south into Yellowstone National Park.
The white bodies of thousands of dead fish litter many parts of the river, victims of a parasite that causes a fatal illness called proliferative kidney disease, or P.K.D., in mountain whitefish. There have been reports that it is also killing trout, the prized game fish here. The outbreak has not spread to humans or other animals.
Scientists haven't pinned the cause of these breakouts to global warming, yet.  But these are just the kinds of things that can happen as the warming atmosphere affects the waters of lakes and rivers.

And even more, red tide, here in the Pacific Northwest
Molluscan shellfish (shellfish with hinged shells such as oysters, clams, and mussels) are filter feeders and ingest any particles, both good and bad, that's in the surrounding water.  Algae is a food source for them, and HABs create a plentiful food supply.  When shellfish eat toxin-producing algae, the toxin remains in their system; large amounts of algae means more toxin can concentrate in their tissue.  Biotoxins don't harm shellfish, but they can accumulate in shellfish to levels that can cause illness or death in humans and other mammals that eat them.  
Cooking does not destroy biotoxins
Cooking will kill the algae that produces the toxin, but the toxin itself is not affected by cooking and remains in the shellfish tissue.
There is no antidote for biotoxin poisoning
Victims must wait for the toxins to naturally flush from their body.  Life support systems such as respirators and oxygen are used in extreme cases to keep the victim alive and stable.  
And global warming is certainly contributing to all this,
Cryan won the 2013 Research, Innovation, and Scholarship Expo's award in physical and life sciences for her work examining the impact of climate change on the incidence and severity of a of algae called Alexandrium fundyense. According to Cryan, the red tides—as the blooms are commonly known—have been a growing concern since the 1970s when a massive bloom shut down shellfisheries along the 's coastline for more than a month during the peak of harvesting season.
Alexandrium naturally produces one of the most potent on the planet: saxitoxin. As this compound accumulates in the bodies of shellfish that consume the algae, the concentration of the toxin renders them unsafe for . There is no cure for paralytic shellfish poisoning—the life-threatening syndrome caused by ingestion of these contaminated shellfish—and so must be closed for the duration of the bloom. This puts an enormous financial burden on fishers whose livelihoods depend on oysters, clams, and mussels. If a contaminated shellfish makes it to a human's dinner plate, Cryan said, Alexandrium becomes a major public health concern.

Our current efforts to stave off global warming can only be described as pathetic, and so we can certainly look forward to a lot more of brain-eating amoebae, parasites, mosquito-borne viruses, and killer red tides.