Blue-green algae bloom alert from health officials

Published: June 3, 2022 5:35 PM EDT
FILE: W.P. Franklin Lock & Dam

The Florida Department of Health in Lee County issued a Health Alert due to blue-green algae, according to a report from the Florida Department of Health. This alert comes after blue-green algae toxins were present in Franklin Lock C43 Canal – S79 (upstream).

This comes in response to a water sample taken on June 1, 2022. The public should be cautious in and around Franklin Lock C43 Canal – S79 (upstream).

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.

Blue-green algae are a type of bacteria common in Florida’s freshwater environments. Blooms occur when the rapid growth of algae then leads to an accumulation of individual cells. These cells 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. Although, they are more frequent in summer and fall. Many types of blue-green algae can produce toxins.

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

For additional information on the potential health effects of algal blooms click here.

You can see current information about Florida’s water quality status and public health notifications for harmful algae blooms and beach conditions if you click here.

If you see an algal bloom you can report it to the Florida Department of Environmental Protection. To report a bloom to DEP, call the toll-free hotline at 855-305-3903. Or you can report one online by clicking here.

Contact the Florida Fish and Wildlife Research Institute to report fish kills 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.