Francis (1878) is reported to be the earliest documentation of cyanobacterial poisoning
(of livestock in that instance). However, earlier anecdotal accounts extend to nearly 1000 years
earlier to the Han Dynasty in China when a general reported poisonings of troops that drank
from a river that was green in color. Codd (1996) stated that awareness of toxic blooms existed
in the 12th century at the former Monasterium Virdis Stagni near Soulseat Loch in Scotland.
This anecdotal awareness has become manifest in the practice on several continents where
people dig shallow depressions near waters containing green scums in order to `filter' out the
scum for drinking purposes. More recently there have been some alarming incidents involving
both cyanobacteria and dinoflagellates.
In 1989, 16 British Army recruits training on a Staffordshire reservoir became ill with
pneumonia. Two of the recruits received extensive treatment for one week. This was eventually
attributed to exposure to water containing a harmful algal bloom (HAB) (Turner et al. 1990). A
record of human poisoning from drinking water in Queensland, Australia extends back to 1887
and has recently been attributed to toxic cyanobacteria in those inland waters (Hayman 1992).
Algal toxins from Malpas Dam in New South Wales, Australia affected the human population in
1973 (Falconer, Beresford, and Runnegar 1983). Similar observations regarding liver cancer
have been made in China (Ueno et al. 1996). Sixty haemodialysis patients died from algal toxins
contained in the dialysis water derived from the municipal water supply for Caruaru, Brazil, and
66 additional patients developed acute toxicity symptoms (Pouria et al. 1998). Pets, waterfowl,
livestock, and wildlife are affected in both natural lakes and reservoirs in this country. Coastal
waters associated with or near Corps navigation projects increasingly experience "red tides"
and blooms of algae as toxic as those described above. The well-documented occurrence of
Pfiesteria in estuarine and near-shore waters has been cause of alarm and health impairment for
nearly a decade.
Four major types of poisoning have been described from toxins produced by marine
HABs. These are: paralytic shellfish poisoning (PSP), neurotoxic shellfish poisoning (NSP),
diarrhetic shellfish poisoning (DSP), and amnesic shellfish poisoning (ASP). As the names imply
they have a common mode of human impact. These marine toxins are all produced by
dinoflagellates except ASP, which is produced by a marine diatom (Plumley 1997). This was of
sufficient interest to hold the First International Conference on Toxic Dinoflagellate Blooms in
1974 (LoCicero 1975). In contrast, toxins in freshwaters are produced primarily by
cyanobacteria and they are apparently more diverse than marine toxins (also Plumley 1997).
Numerous Internet sites exist covering the topic of harmful algal blooms...just search
"harmful algal bloom" or "HAB". Similarly, searching "Pfiesteria" will also identify numerous
sites and bibliographical information resources on this toxic dinoflagellate.
188.8.131.52 Nuisance Growth and Harmful Algal Blooms - Growth and Control
What is a Nuisance Growth? A nuisance growth is defined by the user of the
resource in which the growth occurs. In the same manner that a growth on a person could be