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Revista Médica del Uruguay

Print version ISSN 0303-3295On-line version ISSN 1688-0390


JUANENA, Carolina; NEGRIN, Alba  and  LABORDE, Amalia. Cyanobacteria in beaches: toxicological risk and child vulnerability. Rev. Méd. Urug. [online]. 2020, vol.36, n.3, pp.157-182.  Epub Sep 01, 2020. ISSN 0303-3295.

Cyanobacteria are photosynthetic bacteria from fresh and saltwater plankton. Its excessive accumulation in recreational and drinking waters is known as algal bloom that could potentially affect human health. They are mainly seen in summer, in freshwater waterways and can reach the ocean coasts.

This is a bibliographic review based on the publications registered in PubMed-Medline, BVS (Virtual Health Library that includes SciELO, LILACS, IBECS), Springer, Science Direct, Portal Timbó, and obtained with the terms "cyanobacteria", "cyanotoxins", "Microcystine", "algal blooms", "pediatrics", "children", "recreational" "intoxication" "exposure" without year of publication limits. The review aims to update knowledge about cyanotoxins and their effect on human health; analyze risk scenarios of exposure to cyanobacteria, particularly in children, and reinforce preventive measures for exposure, as well as to promote actions from the health sector.

The clinical manifestations of recent exposure poisoning are general malaise, skin and mucous irritation, respiratory symptoms and even liver insufficiency in severe cases. It is necessary to include these blooms in the pathogenesis of these clinic cases and relate them to the exposure using the monitoring of blooms in the country. Exposure to cyanobacteria is an emerging health risk. The scientific evidence of the last years consolidates knowledge on the effect of exposure to cyanobacteria on human health. Recently, bathing, children's games, and sand intake on coasts with high levels of contamination have been identified as a risk scenario for children. Evidence of cyanotoxin hepatoxicity is even scarcer, although there are documented cases. The beach monitoring system allows health teams to incorporate the suspicion of exposure to cyanobacteria and possible contact with their toxins, to make an early diagnosis and participate in the prevention of exposure.

Keywords : Cyanobacteria; Cyanotoxins; Poisoning; Child; Beach pollution; Environmental exposure.

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