ORLANDO, Fla. – The Florida Department of Health has issued warnings in multiple Central Florida counties about harmful algae toxins found in different bodies of water.
This story was last updated on Sept. 16 with the latest health alerts for blue-green algae.
- Health leaders said they have detected blue-green algae in the northwest portion of Lake Eustis, according to a news release from the FDOH in Lake County. The sample was taken on Aug. 16, according to the agency.
- The Florida Department of Health in Seminole County has issued a health alert for the presence of harmful blue-green algal toxins in Lake Jesup. The sample was taken on July 28, according to the agency.
- The Florida Department of Health in Orange County has issued a health caution for the presence of blue-green algae in Lake Willisara. The sample was taken Monday.
- Also on Monday, a health alert was extended for Lake Anderson for an additional 30 days due to the presence of harmful blue-green algal toxins, the health department said.
- A health alert was issued Aug. 31 for Lake Rowena after a water sample taken Aug. 25 showed the presence of the toxic algae.
- Officials issued an alert Sept. 16 for Lake Copeland after detecting the blue-green algae in a Sept. 14 sample.
- Health officials said the public should exercise caution on and around Lake Speer based on an Oct. 13 water sample indicating blue-green algae blooms.
- A health alert was issued Oct. 13 for Lake Anderson due to blue-green algal toxins being identified in a water sample that day.
- Harmful blue-green algae toxins have been detected in the Kissimmee River in Osceola County, according to health department officials. The toxic algae was found in a sample taken on Aug. 12 from the river south of State Road 60.
What is blue-green algae?
Blue-green algae are a type of bacteria that is common in Florida’s freshwater environments. A bloom occurs when rapid growth of algae leads to an accumulation of individual cells that discolor water and often produce floating mats that emit unpleasant odors, according to the Florida Department of Health. According to health officials, sunny days, warm water temperatures, still water conditions and excess nutrients can all contribute to blooms.
Is it harmful?
It can be, to human health and ecosystems, including fish and other aquatic animals, according to the health department.
The public should exercise caution in and around areas where bacteria are reported.
For additional information on potential health effects of algal blooms, visit floridahealth.gov/environmental-health/aquatic-toxins.
What precautions should I take?
Residents and visitors are advised to avoid swimming, wading, using a watercraft or boating where there is visible algae bloom. Health officials say people who make contact with algae or discolored, smelly water should wash one’s skin and clothing with soap and water. Do not cook or clean dishes with water contaminated by algae blooms, officials said. Boiling the water will not eliminate the toxins.
Eating fillets from healthy fish caught in freshwater lakes experiencing blooms is safe, according to the health department. Fish fillets should be rinsed with tap or bottled water, guts should be thrown out and the fish should be thoroughly cooked. Do not eat shellfish in waters with algae blooms.
People should also keep pets away from the area as algae blooms are not safe for animals.
People can report symptoms from exposure to a harmful algal bloom or any aquatic toxin to the Florida Poison Information Center at call 1-800-222-1222. All other questions regarding concerns about blue-green algae blooms should be directed to residents’ respective county health departments.