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SCCF: Slots fill up at Sanibel mobile lab for red tide study

By SCCF - | Jan 20, 2021

The Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation reported that more than 50 residents of Sanibel and Captiva responded to a call for participants to volunteer for a clinical study by the Roskamp Institute in Sarasota, which is investigating whether red tide has neurological impacts on humans.

“All of our slots filled up two weeks ago for our mobile lab on Sanibel,” study leader David Patterson said. “But we still need more people for the study, especially right now while there’s an active red tide bloom.”

The mobile lab parked in the Sanibel Public Library parking lot on Jan. 16 to take blood and urine samples from those who signed up for the study.

The project, which is the first step in establishing a potential medical diagnosis, is still looking for more volunteers to participate at the Roskamp Institute’s lab in Sarasota.

“The response has been tremendous. We have people from 30 to 90 years of age signed up. Some say they don’t feel anything from the current red tide bloom and others say they can’t leave the house,” he said. “It’s about a 90-minute drive and we really encourage people to volunteer. We need a robust group of volunteers to fulfill the critical goals of this research.”

Watery eyes, sneezing, coughing, and a red tide “tickle” in the throat are associated with the aerosolized brevetoxin, though many people have also reported headaches, dizziness, confusion, nausea, and disorientation during active blooms.

It is the first human trial of its kind to investigate whether exposure to red tide toxins can contribute to dementia, Alzheimer’s, and other neurological issues, or impact different organs, by gathering data on the presence of antibodies and biomarkers in individuals.

“Until a study such as this one is done, you can’t get a medical diagnosis because there have not been any human trials documenting impacts,” Patterson said. “Some people have called looking for a diagnosis and decide not to take part when they realize it’s not a doctor’s appointment.”

To sign up for the study, contact David Patterson at 941-256-8018, ext. 3008.

The Roskamp Institute is at 2040 Whitfield Ave., Sarasota.