Harmful Algal Bloom Illness Surveillance, New York

Mary Figgatt, Neil Muscatiello, Lloyd Wilson, and David Dziewulski.   Harmful Algal Bloom–Associated Illness Surveillance: Lessons From Reported Hospital Visits in New York, 2008–2014. American Journal of Public Health. 2016;106:440–442. doi: 10.2105/AJPH.2015.302988

We identified hospital visits with reported exposure to harmful algal blooms, an emerging public health concern because of toxicity and increased incidence. We used the World Health Organization’s International Classification of Disease (ICD) medical code specifying environmental exposure to harmful algal blooms to extract hospital visit records in New York State from 2008 to 2014. Using the ICD code, we identified 228 hospital visits with reported exposure to harmful algal blooms. They occurred all year long and had multiple principal diagnoses. Of all hospital visits, 94.7% were managed in the emergency department and 5.3% were hospitalizations. As harmful algal bloom surveillance increases, the ICD code will be a beneficial tool to public health only if used properly. 


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