From the Introduction:

Estuary-Associated Syndrome (EAS) is the name given to a potential illness characterized primarily by changes in an individual's cognitive abilities, including acute onset of memory loss or the sudden inability to solve simple problems. Other possible signs of illness include respiratory symptoms, skin rash, or gastrointestinal distress. This illness appears to arise following exposure to toxin produced by Pfiesteria piscicida, or other toxic dinoflagellates, that resides in estuary waters.


In order to learn more about this possible syndrome and to determine if a causal relationship exists between association to waters containing Pfiesteria or other toxic PLOs and illness, cohort studies in Maryland, North Carolina and Virginia were funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). In Virginia, CDC funding through VDH supports the study being done by the Survey and Evaluation Research Laboratory (SERL) at Virginia Commonwealth University with assistance from researchers at the Medical College of Virginia/Virginia Commonwealth University, Eastern Virginia Medical School and the University of Virginia. This study is being conducted in collaboration with researchers at Old Dominion University (ODU), the Virginia Institute of Marine Science (VIMS) and the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) who are gathering information on the environmental aspects of Virginia's waters. The objectives of the study include:

1. Determine the association between exposure to estuary waters containing PLOs and possible EAS.
2. Characterize the clinical signs and symptoms of EAS.
3. Determine the incidence and prevalence of EAS.
4. Identify risk factors and exposure conditions required for illness.