Evaluation of Electronic Health Records to Monitor Illness From Harmful Algal Bloom Exposure in the United States
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Evaluation of Electronic Health Records to Monitor Illness From Harmful Algal Bloom Exposure in the United States

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  • Alternative Title:
    J Environ Health
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    Harmful algal blooms (HABs) are the rapid growth of algae that can produce toxic or harmful effects in people and animals. Potential health effects include respiratory illness, gastrointestinal illness, skin and eye irritation, and sometimes more severe toxic effects such as liver damage. Defining HAB exposure and related illness is challenging for many reasons, including characterizing the exposure. Large electronic health record databases present an opportunity to study health encounters specifically related to HAB exposure through querying medical diagnostic codes. We queried the MarketScan Research Databases between January 2009 and April 2019 for use of the International Classification of Diseases (ICD) codes for HAB exposure. We found a total of 558 records that used either the ICD-9 or ICD-10 code for HAB exposure. Respiratory illness was most commonly reported along with the HAB exposure code. Use of HAB exposure codes showed seasonal fluctuations during 2012-2019. We found that although the HAB-related ICD-9 and ICD-10 codes were used infrequently, they were most often recorded during bloom seasons in warmer months. This analysis is the first that utilizes a large-scale national database of de-identified health records to understand the use of medical diagnostic codes related to algae exposure.
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