Medical Term:

Karenia brevis

Pronunciation: kă-ren′ē-ă brev-is

Definition: A dinoflagellate known for producing potent neurotoxins and accumulating in high concentrations in warm murine environments producing the phenomenon of red tide. The bloom of organisms may turn the water color red or golden; may reach a concentration of 20 million organisms per liter. Neurotoxin causes fish kill, or accumulation of toxin in shellfish (especially oysters, clams, and tiny mollusks called coquinas) and fish, resulting in ciguatera (fish poisoning) or paralytic shellfish poisoning (PSP). If lethal concentrations are ingested, death occurs within 12 hours as a result of respiratory and cardiac arrest. Aerosolized organisms along coastlines cause respiratory irritation resulting in coughing and worsening of asthma, and inflammation of the ocular, oral, and nasal mucous membranes, producing a burning sensation and tingling of lips and tongue. Saxitoxin, the paralytic shellfish toxin, and brevitoxin are some of the more common of the approximately 40 toxins produced and liberated by the dinoflagellate family.

Synonym(s): Gymnodium

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