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Pinellas issues health warning stating respiratory issues could be caused by red tide on beaches

Fish kill
Posted at 5:17 PM, Jun 11, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-11 17:25:38-04

PINEALLAS COUNTY, Fla. — The Florida Department of Health in Pinellas County warned respiratory issues could be caused by a red tide bloom, and are advising beachgoers to avoid the water.

Indian Shores Coffee located across from the beach is noticing a difference in the number of customers coming in.

“We slowed down. Normally we’re pretty busy up until about 1’clock and we slowed down a little earlier during the day,” said Alex Homan.

They’ve survived the pandemic and hope red tide doesn’t set them back.

“It would be great to keep our business flowing as much as possible. We did pretty good considering the pandemic, but things are definitely starting to pick up and it definitely feels like the red tide is putting a curb on things a little bit. So, it’s a little upsetting,” Homan said.

The state said fish kills suspected to be caused by red tide have been reported off Pinellas' beaches this week.

“At night you can’t walk ten steps without having to dodge the dead fish,” said Christy Martin.

Friday health officials in Pinellas County issued a health warning that respiratory issues could be caused by a red tide bloom.

Christy Martin is vacationing with her family at Indian Shores Beach and said the air feels different.

“More for me when you breathe it in, you can tell that it’s a little bit different. When you breathe it in, you want to cough when you breathe it in. When you breathe out it’s not as bad,” Martin said.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission’s latest update shows the red tide organism K. brevis, at medium concentrations in waters off Pinellas and Hillsborough counties. The FWC said it's safe to swim, but can cause some people to suffer skin irritation and burning eyes. Those with chronic respiratory problems should be particularly careful.

Health officials said if you’re susceptible to irritation from plant products, avoid areas with a red tide bloom. If you experience irritation, get out of the water and thoroughly wash off.