DOH alerts communities to potential risk at beaches

The Florida Department of Health

The Florida Department of Health

The Florida Department of Health
Published: Monday, March 18, 2013 at 11:52 AM.

TALLAHASSEE — The Florida Department of Health is reminding people to use caution at the beach or in waters with high concentrations of red tide algae. Adverse health effects on humans and pets can be prevented by staying away from affected areas until the wind moves the algae further offshore.

In Lee and Sarasota counties, the Florida Department of Health monitors beaches for signs of red tide, which has been known to kill fish, discolor water and cause minor respiratory irritation on some local beaches.

As a precaution, health officials recommend the following:

    * Wear shoes when walking on the sand. This will help prevent puncture wounds from the spines or bones of dead fish.

    * Most people can swim in red tide, but it can cause skin irritation and burning eyes. If your skin is easily irritated, avoid red tide water. If you do swim, thoroughly wash off with fresh water when you get out. Do not swim near dead fish.

    * Symptoms from breathing red tide toxins usually include coughing, sneezing and teary eyes. For most people, symptoms are temporary when red tide toxins are in the air. However, wearing a particle filter mask may lessen the effects, and over-the-counter antihistamines may decrease symptoms. Check the marine forecast. Fewer toxins are in the air when the wind is blowing offshore.

    * People with chronic respiratory problems like asthma should avoid red tide areas. People with symptoms that persist should seek medical attention.

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