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Medical News and Perspectives |

Environmental Neurotoxin May Pose Health Threat

Bridget M. Kuehn
JAMA. 2005;293(20):2460-2462. doi:10.1001/jama.293.20.2460.
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A new study has raised concerns that toxins produced by blooms of cyanobacteria, or blue-green algae (such as this Trichodesmium bloom in Florida, as seen from satellite), might be deadly to humans or animals that drink contaminated water. Cox et al. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A . 2005;102:5074-5078.

(Photo credit: National Academy of Sciences; Satellite image courtesy of NASA)

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The cycad tree (left), native to Guam and other tropical and subtropical regions, has a coral-like root (right) that contains symbiotic blue-green algae, or cyanobacteria (inset) that produces a neurotoxin. The toxin has been linked to neurologic disease in some populations.

(Photo credit: Paul Cox, Sandra Banack, and Patty Stewart)



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