Florida red tides occur annually due to proliferation of the marine dinoflagellate Karenia brevis, which produces neurotoxins known as brevotoxins. Inhalational exposure to brevotoxins usually results in upper airway symptoms only. Rarely does exposure lead to lower respiratory tract symptoms as in our case. We report a case of a 50-year-old man who presented with a 4-week history of dyspnea after exposure to the red tide. Computed tomography (CT) of the chest showed diffuse bilateral ground glass opacities and interstitial thickening. Bronchoalveolar lavage cultures and cytology were negative. The patient was started on steroids. Over the next few weeks, the patient's symptoms resolved. Repeat CT chest showed complete resolution of the ground glass opacities. Steroids were then tapered. Most patients who are exposed to algal blooms have self-limiting symptoms. Patients with asthma are particularly susceptible to worsening respiratory symptoms after exposure to brevotoxin aerosols. This case highlights that, in rare cases, exposure to red tide can results in severe lower respiratory tract symptoms.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine