The Lee County Florida Department of Health reminds residents and visitors to use caution when on the beach or in water with a high concentration of red tide.
Protect your family and pets by staying away from affected areas until the flowers move further offshore or disappear. Red tide is a natural algae that has been documented along the Gulf Coast of Florida since the 1840s and occurs almost every year. Because the flowers are patchy, other local beaches can be visited.
The department encourages everyone to check out these tips for staying safe while enjoying Florida beaches:
- In Florida, the red tide is caused by a naturally occurring microscopic algae called Karenia
- Red tide algae blooms can change quickly, staying in one place for months or a few
days or weeks.
- Symptoms of red tide breathing usually include coughing, sneezing, and watery eyes.
For most people, symptoms are temporary and usually go away when the person
leave the area. Wearing a particle filter mask may lessen the effects, and over-the-counter antihistamines decrease symptoms.
- People with chronic breathing problems, such as asthma, should avoid areas
red tides. People with persistent symptoms should see a doctor.
- Pet owners are advised that the red tide poses a risk to animals brought to the beach. Red
the tide can affect animals if they drink contaminated water, lick their wet paws or fur, or breathe
- Residents sensitive to the red tide and living in beach areas affected by blooms are notified
to close the windows and operate the air conditioner (making sure the AC filter is maintained
according to the manufacturer’s specifications).
- Seafood, including shellfish, in restaurants, hotels, grocery stores, and markets is safe to eat. Cooked shellfish (oysters, clams, mussels) thoroughly to avoid exposure to Vibrio vulnificus. Shellfish should not be harvested or consumed in areas with active red tide.
Bathers are encouraged to check conditions before going to the beach, as conditions can change daily.
For the latest reports on the state of the red tide: Visit the FWC Red Tide Current Status Website.
Questions related to the red tide / health problems? Call the Florida Poison Control Information Center at 1-800-222-1222
Current beach conditions: Visit the MOTE Beach Website Conditions.
Report fish deaths: On the FWC How to Report a Fish Kill Website or dial 1-800-636-0511
Shellfish harvesting areas: Visit the FDAC Shellfish harvesting area website.
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