PINELLAS COUNTY, Fla. — The Florida Department of Health in Pinellas County is alerting the public of a red tide bloom along Pinellas coastal beaches.
The DOH-Pinellas said some people may have mild and short-lived respiratory symptoms such as eye, nose and throat irritation similar to cold symptoms. Some individuals with breathing problems such as asthma might experience more severe symptoms.
Usually, symptoms go away when a person leaves the area or goes indoors.
Health officials are recommending that people who are experiencing those symptoms to stay away from beach areas and go into an air-conditioned space.
Florida politician Ken Welch made a statement on the recent red tide outbreak:
"As we continue to face extreme threats to our environment here in St. Petersburg and throughout the entire Tampa Bay region, we must fund projects that improve our infrastructure and create a more sustainable future for our community.
"This recent red tide outbreak is yet another stark reminder of the immediate need for action to help mitigate this crisis. As Mayor, I will work with our state and federal partners to invest more into early detection and monitoring systems, water quality improvement projects, and coastal resiliency.
"With these partners in progress, we will ensure our City remains a global destination for residents and visitors alike."
Here are some steps the DOH-Pinellas recommends:
- Do not swim around dead fish at this location
- If you have chronic respiratory problems, be careful and consider staying away from this location as red tide can affect your breathing.
- Do not harvest or eat molluscan shellfish and distressed or dead fish from this location.
- If fish are healthy, rinse fillets with tap or bottled water and throw out the guts.
- Keep pets away from water, seafoam and dead sea life.
- Residents living in beach areas are advised to close windows and run the air conditioner (making sure that the A/C filter is maintained according to the manufacturer's specifications).
- If outdoors, residents may choose to wear paper filter masks, especially if onshore winds are blowing.
To report illnesses, including health effects from exposure to red tide, call the Florida Poison Control Centers toll-free 24/7 Hotline at 1-800-222-1222.