Health alert issued due to blue-green algae bloom at Lake Weir in Ocklawaha

Residents should avoid water

An algae bloom at Lake Weird pictured on April 1, 2021. (Florida Department of Environmental Protection)

Ocklawaha, Fla. – A blue-green algae bloom at Lake Weir in Ocklawaha is at the center of an alert issued by the Florida Department of Health in Marion County on Monday.

Cylindrospermopsis raciborskii and botryococcus braunii toxins have been detected in the water, which are the result of blue-green algae.

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Blue-green algae blooms take place in fresh water when the weather is warm, particularly in the summer and fall months, and deprive the water of oxygen, thus killing fish and other marine life.

These blooms can turn the water blue, green, brown, orange or red and are usually easily spotted due to the build up of scum on the surface.

“Don’t swallow, swim, wade, use personal watercraft, water ski, or boat in waters where there are algae blooms. Algae blooms can cause ear, eye, and skin reactions and hay fever and flu-like symptoms like diarrhea. Wash your skin and clothing with soap and water if you have contact with algae or discolored or smelly water,” the health department said.

Pets and livestock should steer clear of areas where blooms are present and the water should not be used to clean dishes or cook because even if it’s boiled, it will still contain toxins.

“Fillets from healthy fish caught in freshwater lakes experiencing blooms are safe to eat. Rinse fish fillets with tap or bottled water, throw out the guts, and cook fish well. Do not eat shellfish from this location,” the department said in a news release.

For more information about blue-green algae, click here. To see a map of blooms across Florida, click here.