Southwest Georgia Local Section


Nausea and vomiting or something more sinister? Development of diagnostic tests for measuring exposure to natural and synthetic toxins.

Posted on March 13, 2015 at 12:00 AM

to be held on Thursday, March 12, 2015.

at Valdosta State University, University Center, Magnolia Room 2

6:00 pm - Social Period and Dinner

7:00 pm - Speaker Presentation

7:40 pm - Q&A

RSVP by Friday, March 6th to: Melissa Nolley, (229) 333-5798


Symptoms of exposure to natural and synthetic toxins are often very similar to symptoms that would arise from other physiologic conditions. It is crucial that appropriate diagnostic tests be capable of discerning between these causes. My research is centered on the development of diagnostic tests to measure exposure to paralytic shellfish toxins and organophosphate compounds like nerve agents and some pesticides. Paralytic shellfish poisoning generally occurs in coastal regions where red tides form and common symptoms of exposure include tingling and numbness in the fingers and lips. These symptoms are very similar to those of alcohol intoxication and distinguishing between the two based on symptoms alone is very difficult when both alcohol and shellfish have been consumed in the same meal. Data collected from potential exposures to these toxins will be presented along with recent efforts to improve diagnostic tests for identifying paralytic shellfish poisoning. In contrast, exposure to organophosphate compounds causes a specific set of symptoms including twitching and constriction of pupils. Diagnosis of exposure to this class of compounds can be made with moderate accuracy based on symptoms. However, diagnostic tests are needed to determine whether this exposure was the result of an intentional release of a chemical terrorism agent, a case of a misused pesticide, or another more benign cause. Recent developments in methodology to identify organophosphate agents of exposure will be discussed as well as complications associated with sample collection from countries where agent releases may have occurred.


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