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Pfiesteria Conference Held in Maryland

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Representatives from 6 states gathered to combine forces in a battle against pfiesteria.
ANNAPOLIS — For at least eight years, amicro-organism called pfiesteria haspreyed on the creatures in North Carolina's rivers, and on those who makeliving catching them. But when Maryland's rivers started to cough upfish stricken with symptoms of pfiesteria, that state's governor began to push for a major battle against the micro-organism.

Friday, a special meeting got underway in Annapolis. In attendance arerepresentatives with interests in the topic. The groupis hoping to come up with a unified approach to study and deal withpfiesteria.

NC Governor Jim Hunt was unable to attend the conference due toconflicting plans in Europe. He did, however, send two of his cabinetmembers to represent NC's interests in the meeting with governors fromfour other eastern states and representatives from Pennsylvania.

The representatives of six states signed an agreement to work together.They told reporters they would combine their research efforts toward acomprehensive goal of beating pfiesteria.

Governor Parris Glendening of Maryland said public health is at the topof the group's list of priorities.

This pfiesteria summit is the first of its kind and comes just onemonth after Glendening closed part of the Pocomoke River. Researchers saythat waterway has contributed to the illness of seven people.

North Carolina State University JoAnn Burkholder is considered anauthority on the micro-organism. She attended the conference and had highpraise for Maryland's governor.

While North Carolina has been dealing with this problem for years,politicians at the summit say they don't want to point fingers at anystate. It does appear to some, however, that Maryland has had to force NCinto dealing with the problem.

New leaders appointed to handle the problem in NC, such as Dr. DavidBruton, Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services, saythat's not true.

Dr. Bruton is one of a group of new leaders in NC that many hope willtake a new and more effective approach to the problems caused bypfiesteria. Those at the conference agree that the problem is at its worstin NC.

Photographer:Joe Frieda

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