OCALA —The Florida Department of Health in Marion County has issued a Health Alert for the presence of Cylindrospermopsis raciborskii and Botryococcus braunii toxins in surface water. These toxins are related to the presence of blue-green algae. The impacted waterbody is Lake Weir with a main public access point along the north shore at 12431 SE 135th Ave., Ocklawaha, FL.
Blue-green algae (also known as cyanobacteria) can grow in Florida’s fresh waterbodies. Large concentrations of these algae, called blooms, can change the water color to blue, green, brown, orange, or red. Blooms can appear year-round but are more frequent in summer and fall. Blue-green algae can grow rapidly and sometimes form a foamy surface scum and an unpleasant odor. Because algae blooms can remove oxygen from the water, fish kills can occur.
Don’t swallow, swim, wade, use personal watercraft, water ski, or boat in waters where there are algae blooms. Algae blooms can cause ear, eye, and skin reactions and hay fever and flu-like symptoms like diarrhea. 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.
Don’t cook or clean dishes with water contaminated by algae blooms. Boiling the water will not eliminate the toxins.
Fillets from healthy fish caught in freshwater lakes experiencing blooms are safe to eat. Rinse fish fillets with tap or bottled water, throw out the guts, and cook fish well. Do not eat shellfish from this location.
For more information on algae blooms visit the Florida Department of Environmental Protection webpage https://floridadep.gov/algalbloom.