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Fish-Kill Outbreak in the Southern Caribbean: Epidemiology and Public-Health Impact

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  1. Pan American Health Organization Regional Office of the World Health Organization Fish-Kill Outbreak in the Southern Caribbean: Epidemiology and Public-Health Impact Genaro García Regional Advisor on Food Safety Veterinary Public Health Unit Disease Prevention and Control Amelia la Barbera Fondo Nacional de Investigaciones Agropecuarias (FONAIAP) Venezuela • 4th Annual Meeting of Inspection and Quality-Control Services and Institutions for Fish Products (Porlamar, Margarita Island, Venezuela, 28 July- 1 August 2003)

  2. Objectives • Present an experience of fish mortality in the southeastern Caribbean (1999). • Discuss its public-health implications (Health: Socioeconomic ---> Political)

  3. Where: Caribbean RegionWhen: 1999

  4. Hypothesis • Volcanic eruption in Trinidad. • Red tides (toxic and non-toxic). • Rainfall. • Chemical spillage. • Combination of: • High water temperatures. • Increase of nutrients. • Decrease of oxygen.

  5. Fish Kill: Temporal Distribution(Caribbean, 1999) • Guyana: July 1999 • Venezuela: Beginning of August 1999 • Barbados: 16 September 1999 • Grenada: End July – Beginning August 1999 • Saint Vincent: 2 September 1999 • Tobago: September (?) 1999 • Decline: By mid-September 1999, mortality had declined in affected English-speaking islands.

  6. Country Situation 1999:Barbados (1) • Began on 16 September 1999. • Southeast coast affected. • Fisherman reported greenish water in affected areas. • Killing of reef fish : thousands per day. • Mortality declining by last week. • There are still no conclusive results on the cause(s) associated with the high fish mortality.

  7. Country Situation 1999:Barbados (2) Water Samples • None collected, thus no results for phytoplankton studies. • Observation showed water high temperature of 28–33° C. • Fish samples taken of freshly killed reef fish from one (? ) affected area.

  8. Country Situation 1999:Barbados (3) Fish Samples (cont.) • No macroscopic lesions observed on skin. • Pale gills. • Liver, other internal organs: anemic appearance. • Distended abdomen (air in peritoneal cavity).

  9. Country Situation 1999:Barbados (4) Fish Samples (cont.) • Streptococcus iniae isolated from liver, brain, gastrointestinal tract of dying fish. (Source: Ferguson, St. John, Roach, 1999) • Samples taken of additional fish species from affected areas and “normal-healthy” fish.

  10. Country Situation 1999:Barbados (5) Fish Samples (cont.) • Streptococcus iniae is being proposed as a determining factor for the fish-kill events in Barbados.(Source: Ferguson, e-mail of 10 November 1999)

  11. Country Situation 1999:Barbados (6) Fish Samples “Investigation of predisposing factors is required but most difficult …There are several areas for further monitoring/surveillance and research, the end result of which would be a … monitoring and early-control detection/warning system.” (Ferguson, personal communication, 11/10/99)

  12. Country Situation 1999:Grenada (1) Water Samples • Improperly collected, thus no conclusive results for phytoplankton studies. • Observation of high water temperature of 28–33° C. • Oxygen demand (DO2) was low. • Unusual organic matter. • Salinity a bit lower. • Carbamate-like compound present.

  13. Country Situation 1999:Grenada (2) • Began at end July to beginning of August 1999. • Mainly on the east coast. • Fisherman reported greenish water in affected areas. • Killing of reef fish : thousands per day. • Mortality in Grenada declining by last week. • Mortality still reported in Carracou by 28 September 1999.

  14. Country Situation 1999:St. Vincent & the Grenadines (1) • Began on 2 September 1999. • Mainly on the east coast. • Fisherman reported greenish water in affected areas. • Killing of reef fish : thousands per day. • Mortality declining by last week. • Mortality still being reported in the Grenadines during the last two weeks.

  15. Country Situation 1999:St. Vincent & the Grenadines(2) Water Samples • Improperly collected, thus no conclusive results for phytoplankton studies. • Observation of high water temperature of 28–33° C. • DO2 was low . • Unusual organic matter. • Salinity a bit lower. • High coliforms counts

  16. Country Situation 1999:St. Vincent & the Grenadines(3) Fish Samples • No macroscopic lesions. • Will be sent to Barbados regarding hypothesis of Streptococcus iniae. • Frozen fish samples will be send to Venezuela. • Japanese team.

  17. Country Situation 1999:Trinidad and Tobago (1) • The Institute of Marine Affairs (IMA) is investigating fish mortality in Tobago. • Press release issued by the IMA. • Preliminary report of findings:Report on water, phytoplanktons to be released and shared with countries and PAHO. • IMA does not have capability to run bioassays for marine toxins.

  18. Ocean: Chlorophyll a Concentration (mg/m3) Land:Normalized Difference Land Vegetation Index Minimum Maximum Satellite Images of Chlorophyll a Concentration (1999)Satellite: Sea WIFs (USA) (01)

  19. Ocean:Chlorophyll a Concentration (mg/m3) Land:Normalized Difference Land Vegetation Index Minimum Maximum Satellite Images of Chlorophyll a Concentration (1999)Satellite: Sea WIFs (USA) (02)

  20. Ocean:Chlorophyll a Concentration (mg/m3) Land: Normalized Difference Land Vegetation Index Minimum Maximum Satellite Images of Chlorophyll a Concentration (1999)Satellite: Sea WIFs (USA) (03)

  21. Fish-Killing a SeriousPublic-Health and Politico-Social Problem Indirect Impact on Public Health • Tourism influx affected. • Apprehension among the national population regarding consumption of fish until problem clearly defined.

  22. Fish Killing “a Serious” Public-Health and Politico-Social Problem Direct Impact on Public Health • Human cases: Only one reported case associated to rock fish consumption in Bequia. • Informal Interview of people from working people in Grenada, Saint Vincent:3 out of 10 persons interviewed reported diarrhea, vomiting, and cramping a few hours after consuming rockfish. • Note: Is there any increase of diarrhea syndromes in the affected countries?

  23. Fish-Killing a “Serious” Public-Health and Politico-Social Problem Direct Economic Impact on Fisheries (St. Vincent) • Fish-landing drop: 75% value of EC$ 500,000 per month. • Fishermen: 75% drop in activity. • Vendors and fish-handlers: 75% drop in activity. • Exports to Martinique: Loss of US$ 120,000 per month. • Export of affected species to USA: Loss of US$ 12,000 per month.

  24. Fish Killing “a Serious” Public-Health and Politico-Social Problem Direct Economic Impact on Fisheries (Saint Vincent) If current trend continues, losses will amount to US$ 132,000 in exports. US$ 375,000 in local markets. US$ 507,000 per month total losses.

  25. Epidemiological Surveillance FK (P) = a + b1 (x1) + b2 (x2) + b3 (x3) + b4 (x1x2) + … + e FK (p) = Variable or probability of fish kill a = interceptor b1……bn = regression coefficients x1…….xn= independent variables (contributing factors) x1 = Temperature (Centigrade) X2 = Phytoplankton (number of cells per liter) X3 = toxic dyflagelates a and b (0 or 1) X4 = Streptococcus iniae (ufc/g) E = Error

  26. Start Monitoring Mouse Essay /Plankton SAS/MAC/GN Toxic dinoflagelates Yes Suspension of consumption No Surveillance Program for Marine Toxins (PSP) Venezuela A. La Barbera, FONAIAP Certification Information Health Permit Hospital alert Transport Permit Market supervision, confiscation >Sample frequency Normal sample frequency Commercialization

  27. Websites of Interest • Pan American Health Organization (PAHO/WHO)http://www.paho.org • Pan American Institute on Food Protection and Zoonoses (INPPAZ)http://www.panalimentos.org • World Health Organization (WHO)http://www.who.org

  28. The End • Thank you very much! • garciage@paho.org