Health alert issued for bloom of blue-green algae along the eastern shore of Lake Okeechobee

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Martin County – April 8, 2022: The Martin County Florida Department of Health has issued a health alert regarding the presence of harmful blue-green algal toxins in the waters along the eastern shore of Lake Okeechobee at the Port Mayaca Lock and Dam.

Blue-green algae blooms can impact human health and ecosystems, including fish and other aquatic animals. Many types of blue-green algae can produce toxins.

The alert was issued in response to water samples taken by the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) on April 4. To view sample results and report an algal bloom, visit: https://floridadep.gov/dear/algal-bloom/content/algal-bloom-sample-results.

What is blue-green algae?

Blue-green algae are a type of bacteria common in Florida’s freshwater environments. A bloom occurs when the rapid growth of algae causes an accumulation of individual cells that discolor the water and often produce floating mats that emit unpleasant odors.

Some environmental factors that contribute to blue-green algae blooms are sunny days, warm water temperatures, calm water conditions, and excess nutrients. Flowers can appear all year round but are most common in summer and fall.

Find up-to-date information on the state of Florida’s water quality and public health notifications regarding harmful algal blooms and beach conditions by visiting: https://protectingfloridatogether.gov/. Protecting Florida Together is the state’s joint effort to provide statewide water quality information to prioritize environmental transparency and commitment to action. .

Residents and visitors are advised to take the following precautions:

• Do not drink, swim, wade, use a personal watercraft, water ski or boat in waters where there is visible bloom.

• Wash your skin and clothes with soap and water if you come into contact with algae or discolored or smelly water.

• Keep pets away from the area. Waters with algal blooms are not safe for animals. Pets and livestock should have a different water source in case of algae blooms.

• Do not cook or wash dishes with water contaminated with algae blooms. Boiling water will not remove toxins.

• Eating healthy fish fillets caught in freshwater lakes with blooms is safe. Rinse the fish fillets with tap or bottled water, discard the casings and cook the fish thoroughly.

• Do not eat shellfish in waters where algae blooms.

For more information on the potential health effects of algal blooms, visit: https://www.floridahealth.gov/environmental-health/aquatic-toxins/harmful-algae-blooms/index.html.

What should I do if I see an algae bloom?

The Florida Department of Environmental Protection collects and analyzes algal bloom samples. To report a bloom to DEP, call the toll-free hotline at 855-305-3903 or report online.

To report fish kills, contact the Florida Fish and Wildlife Research Institute at 1-800-636-0511.

Report symptoms of exposure to harmful algal blooms or any aquatic toxins to the Florida Poison Information Center, call 1-800-222-1222 to speak to a poison specialist immediately.

Contact your veterinarian if you suspect your pet has become ill after consuming or coming into contact with water contaminated with blue-green algae.

If you have other health questions or concerns about blue-green algae blooms, please call the Martin County Florida Department of Health at 772-221-4000.

Copyright 2022 WQCS. To learn more, visit WQCS.

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