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Researchers seek volunteers for study on how red tide affects the brain

Researchers are hoping to learn about the neurological impacts of red tide.

A mobile lab is being sent to Sanibel next month to conduct a study on how algal blooms affect the brain. Researchers from the Roskamp Institute in Sarasota say it’s important to make sure it isn’t damaging human bodies, especially on Sanibel, where people may have been exposed to red tide and blue-green algae toxins in the past.

Monday’s data showed a “low” concentration of red tide off the island’s coast. Nonetheless, researchers want to know if exposure to it can contribute to dementia or Alzheimer’s.

“During the last really bad bloom … we saw an increase in referrals to our neurology clinic and increased interest from local physicians who were suggesting that some of the patients were complaining of increased neurological problems, perhaps associated with red tide,” said Dr. Mike Mullan, executive director of the Roskamp Institute.

They’re looking for volunteers on and around Sanibel to give blood and urine samples.

“Initially, we thought we were only going to run the study for a couple of years, but as the studies got underway, we realized that we may want to look at these potential impacts over a much longer period of time, but initially, the study, we’re only asking people to be involved for two years,” Mullan said.

The institute’s mobile lab will be parked in the main parking lot of the Sanibel Post Office from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Jan. 16.

If you’d like to volunteer for the study, you can sign up by calling David Patterson with the Roskamp Institute at 941- 256 8019, ext. 3008.

Reporter:Stephanie Byrne
Writer:Jackie Winchester
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