BY MARCY SHORTUSE- The Florida Department of Health in Lee County has announced the presence of a red tide bloom just to the south of Boca Grande, and to the north. A patchy bloom of organism, also known as Karenia brevis, has been found in multiple samples over the past week in Lee and Collier Counties, with the most recent satellite imagery and monitoring efforts indicate that patches of elevated chlorophyll/discolored water there extend up to 20 miles offshore.
K. brevis was also observed at background or very low concentrations in and offshore of Sarasota and Charlotte Counties.
Some people may have mild and short-lived respiratory symptoms such as eye, nose and throat irritation similar to cold symptoms. Some individuals with breathing problems such as asthma might experience more severe symptoms. Usually, symptoms go away when a person leaves the area or goes indoors. Health officials recommend that people experiencing these symptoms stay away from beach areas or go into an air-conditioned space. If symptoms do not subside, please contact your health care provider for evaluation.
The Department recommends that you do not swim around dead fish at bloom sites, and if you have chronic respiratory problems you should consider staying away from those locations, as red tide can affect your breathing. Do not harvest or eat molluscan shellfish and distressed or dead fish from these locations. If fish are healthy, rinse fillets with tap or bottled water and throw out the guts. Keep pets and livestock away from water, sea foam and dead sea life.
Residents living in beach areas are advised to close windows and run the air conditioner (making sure that the A/C filter is maintained according to manufacturer’s specifications). If outdoors, residents may choose to wear paper filter masks, especially if onshore winds are blowing.
Florida Poison Control Centers have a toll-free 24/7 Hotline for reporting of illnesses, including health effects from exposure to red tide at (888) 232-8635.
Visit myfwc.com/research/redtide/statewide/ for more information.