Floridians Be Mindful of Toxic Cyanobacteria

Posted on Sep 20th 2018 by Florida Blue

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This summer much our state has grappled with toxic blue-green algae, red tides and the numerous hazards that come along with these imbalances in our marine environments.

As a health care company we are deeply concerned about the effects these ecological issues have on the wellbeing of Floridians. After all so much of our lives here in Florida revolve around the water -- from fishing to kayaking and swimming, these current conditions can be detrimental to both human and animal health.

But what exactly is “blue-green algae” and how is it harmful?

According to the Surfrider Foundation, a worldwide nonprofit dedicated to the protection of our oceans, waves and beach, “cyanobacteria are aquatic bacteria, and are some of the oldest living organelles on earth.” Blue-green algae can also manifest in other colors including red, yellow, brown, blue and green, and these cyanobacterias often form a scum on the water’s surface.

It’s important to note that not all “blue-green algaes or cyanobacteria” are toxic, but here in Florida, and this summer in particular, toxic Microcystin and Anatoxin have been found in our Florida waters.

Symptoms of toxic cyanobacteria can vary depending on exposure levels and can include skin irritations in the form of a rash or blisters, eye, nose and throat irritations, and inflammation of the respiratory tract.

In the event that one swallows water containing high concentrations of toxic cyanobacteria symptoms can lead to nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain and diarrhea.

Effects on the liver and nervous system of animals and people have also been documented in severe cases.

Florida Blue's Dr. Carm adds that "toxic cyanobacteria or blue green algae such as the blooms we’ve seen off the coasts of Florida this summer and in the summer of 2016, can cause respiratory issues as they emit noxious fumes. Eating contaminated seafood or drinking water can make people and wildlife sick causing diarrhea and vomiting. It is best to stay away from exposure to toxic cyanobacteria and keep pets safe from it as well.” 

Please be mindful of county, city or state notices if you reside in an area exhibiting symptoms of toxic cyanobacteria and heed any advisories from local lifeguards or law enforcement when questionable water conditions are visable.


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