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Florida health officials warn of red tide, suggest precautions

By WALA Staff

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    SANTA ROSA COUNTY, Florida (WALA) — The Florida Department of Health in Santa Rosa County is reminding residents and visitors to use caution when on the beach or in waters with high concentrations of red tide.

Low levels of red tide have been detected in sampling conducted from Navarre Beach Pier, the department says in a news release.

Protect your family and pets by staying away from affected areas until the blooms move further offshore or they go away. Red tide is a naturally occurring algae that has been documented along Florida’s Gulf Coast since 1840s and occurs nearly every year.

Because the blooms are patchy, other local beaches may be OK to visit, health officials advise.

The department encourages everyone to review these tips to stay safe while enjoying Florida’s beaches:

• In Florida, red tide is caused by a naturally occurring microscopic alga called Karenia brevis.

• Red tide algal blooms can change rapidly, staying in one place for months or just a few days or weeks.

• Symptoms from breathing red tide usually include coughing, sneezing and watery eyes. For most people, symptoms are temporary and typically go away when the person leaves the area. Wearing a particle filter mask may lessen the effects, and over the counter antihistamines decrease symptoms.

• Pet owners are advised that red tide poses a risk to animals brought to the beach. Red tide can affect animals if they drink affected water, lick their wet paws or fur, or breath marine aerosols.

• Residents sensitive to red tide and living in beach areas affected by blooms are advised to close windows and run the air conditioner (making sure that 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. Cook shellfish (oysters, clams, mussels) thoroughly to prevent exposure to Vibrio vulnificus. Shellfish should not be harvested or eaten from areas with active red tide. Beachgoers are encouraged to check conditions before they got to the beach as conditions change daily.

For the latest Red Tide Status Reports: Visit the FWC Red Tide Current Status website.

Red tide questions/ health concerns? Call the Florida Poison Control Centers 24/7 Hotline for reporting of illnesses, including health effects from exposure to red tide at 1-800-222-1222.

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