OHHABS Fact Sheet
OHHABS Fact Sheet
- Algae are important organisms in oceans, rivers, and lakes, but some algae can produce toxins that harm people, animals, and the environment.
- Harmful algal blooms, or overgrowth of algae, are increasing in occurrence and severity across the country.
- Health departments and their environmental and animal health partners can use the One Health Harmful Algal Bloom System to reportharmful algal blooms and associated illnesses [PDF-176KB].
One Health Harmful Algal Bloom System (OHHABS)
Harmful algal blooms (HABs) are an emerging public health issue that can contaminate the
environment, drinking water, recreational water, and food. Exposure to HAB toxins through water,
food, or air may cause a range of mild to severe symptoms in both humans and animals.
HAB-associated exposures can result in symptoms that affect the skin, stomach and intestines, lungs,
and nervous system. Animals, such as dogs, cattle, birds, and fish, are likely to be affected before
people during HAB events as they are more likely to drink from or swim in waters that contain HABs.
People can be affected by HAB events from exposure during work or recreational activities, or from
ingestion of contaminated water or food.
About the One Health Harmful Algal Bloom System (OHHABS)
The One Health Harmful Algal Bloom System (OHHABS) is a voluntary reporting system available to state and territorial public health departments and their designated environmental health or animal health partners. It collects data on individual human and animal cases of illnesses from HAB-associated exposures, as well as environmental data about HABs. The goal of OHHABS is to collect information to support the understanding and prevention of HABs and HAB-associated illnesses.
OHHABS is an example of One Health surveillance. One Health is an approach that recognizes that human, animal, and environmental health are interconnected, and that human health, animal health, and environmental health communities can more effectively address many linked health challenges by working together.
OHHABS development began in 2014 as a collaborative effort between state and federal partners. In addition to state and federal expertise on HABs, CDC leveraged three essential resources to develop and launch OHHABS in June 2016:
- Technical capability for electronic reporting via the National Outbreak Reporting System (NORS) platform.
- Lessons learned from a previous HAB-associated illness surveillance efforts that ended in 2012.
- Support from the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI), which will use OHHABS data to evaluate and inform restoration efforts for the Great Lakes ecosystem.