OCALA, Fla. – Harmful blue-green algal toxins were found in Lake Weir in Ocklawaha, according to a health alert issued by the Florida Department of Health in Marion County.
The health alert was issued on Monday after a water sample was taken June 7 from the center of the lake by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection. The sample indicated toxins were present.
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Blue-green algae are a type of bacteria common in the state’s freshwater environments, according to a DOH news release. Blue-green algae blooms can impact human health and ecosystems.
The department advised that the public should exercise caution in and around Lake Weir:
- Do not drink, swim, wade, use personal watercraft, water ski or boat in waters where there is a visible algae bloom. Do not get water in your eyes, nose or mouth.
- Wash your skin and clothing with soap and water if you have contact with algae or with discolored or smelly water.
- Keep pets away from the area. Waters where there are algae blooms are not safe for animals. Pets and livestock should have a different source of water when algae blooms are present.
- Do not cook or clean dishes with water contaminated by algae blooms. Boiling the water will not eliminate the toxins.
- Eating fillets from healthy fish caught in freshwater lakes experiencing blooms is safe. Rinse fish fillets with tap or bottled water, throw out the guts and cook fish well.
- Do not eat shellfish in waters with algae blooms.
A health alert will be lifted when negative toxin analyses are obtained after resampling the bloom or when 30 days have elapsed since the last sampling date.
Symptoms from exposure to a harmful algal bloom or any aquatic toxin should be reported to the Florida Poison Information Center. Call 1-800-222-1222 to speak to a poison specialist immediately.