TAMPA, Fla. — The Florida Department of Health in Hillsborough County issued a health alert for harmful blue-green algae toxins in the Hillsborough River on Tuesday.
DOH-Hillsborough said the alert was issued in response to a water sample taken on August 4. It added that the public should use caution in and around the area of the Hillsborough River.
DOH-Hillsborough said blue-green algae can impact human health and ecosystems, including fish and other aquatic animals.
According to DOH-Hillsborough, blue-green algae are a type of bacteria that is common in Florida freshwater environments. A bloom happens when rapid growth of algae causes individual cells to accumulate and discolor the water. The grouping often produces floating mats that release unpleasant odors.
DOH-Hillsborough said some environmental factors that contribute to blue-green algae blooms are sunny days, warm water temperatures, still water conditions, and excess nutrients.
What should you do?
- 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.
If you have any health questions or concerns about blue-green algae blooms, please call the Florida Department of Health in Hillsborough County at 813-307-8000.