DOH issues health alert for blue-green algae at Jaycee Park in Cape Coral

The Florida Department of Health in Lee County has issued a Health Alert on Friday for the presence of harmful blue-green algal toxins at Jaycee Park in Cape Coral.

This is in response to a water sample taken on July 20. According to the DOH, the public should exercise caution in and around Jaycee Park.

Because it’s so hot, Barry Rosen, an FGCU professor and expert on algal blooms, says it’s the perfect recipe for algae to grow in the Caloosahatchee River, and from there, it could get into nearby canals.

“It’s a nice quieter area than the river itself,” Rosen said. “So when the algae get back in there, they’re going to start to grow and proliferate.”

We looked at the canals on the other side of Jaycee Park Friday, and did not see any of the green gunk at the surface yet.

Elizabeth Halter hopes it stays that way.

“I would be concerned with dogs and pets also to go in any type of water right now, depending on where you take them in,” Halter said.

Cape Coral is responding to the treat of blue-green algae in its waterways and bringing back bubble curtain technology it used in 2018.

The bubble curtains are installed at the start of a canal and helps keep the algae from entering. The rain could also help flush the algae out.

Residents and visitors are advised to take the following precautions:

  • Do not drink, swim, wade, use personal watercraft, water ski or boat in waters where there is a visible bloom.
  • Wash your skin and clothing with soap and water if you have contact with algae or 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.

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.

Some environmental factors that contribute to blue-green algae blooms are sunny days, warm water temperatures, still water conditions and excess nutrients. Blooms can appear year-round but are more frequent in summer and fall. Many types of blue-green algae can produce toxins.

Is it harmful?

Blue-green algae blooms can impact human health and ecosystems, including fish and other aquatic animals.

Additional information on potential health effects of algal blooms, can be found on the FDOH Harmful Algae Blooms website.

Find current information about Florida’s water quality status and public health notifications for harmful algal blooms and beach conditions by visiting Protecting Florida Together is the state’s joint effort to provide statewide water quality information to prioritize environmental transparency and commitment to action.
What do I do if I see an algal bloom?

LINK: Algae tracking map

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 from exposure to a harmful algal bloom or any aquatic toxin to the Florida Poison Information Center, call 1-800-222-1222 to speak to a poison specialist immediately.

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

If you have other health questions or concerns about blue-green algae blooms, please call the Florida Department of Health in Lee County at (239) 690-2100.

Reporter:Gail Levy
Writer:WINK News
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