State Receives Preliminary Pfiesteria Test Results For Chicamacomico River

Annapolis, MD (Oct. 2, 1997) -- Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Secretary John R. Griffin today announced that a Pfiesteria-like microorganism has been preliminarily identified in four of six water samples taken September 13 through 15 from the Chicamacomico River near Drawbridge Road in Dorchester County. The samples were taken from an area of the river where thousands of menhaden were found in distress and dying with Pfiesteria-like lesions. Governor Parris N. Glendening directed DNR and the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, working with the Dorchester County Health Department, to close a six-mile section of the river on September 14 after a field investigation confirmed the possibility that Pfiesteria-like organisms could be acting in a toxic form.
The Chicamacomico water samples were reviewed by researchers using light microscope analysis at Dr. JoAnn Burkholder's laboratory at North Carolina State University. The presumptive toxicity of the samples ranged from very low to having the potential to harm or possibly kill fish. To confirm the toxicity of a Pfiesteria-like dinoflagellate, Dr. Burkholder will perform laboratory tests involving Chicamacomico River water from the sample area and healthy fish. She will test the water samples to confirm that the Pfiesteria-like organisms are capable of becoming toxic and injuring or killing fish.

"Our quick, decisive action to close the affected section of the river underscored our top priorities -- the health of our citizens and the protection of our natural resources," said Governor Glendening.

The closure remains in effect until further notice.

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