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Red tide health alerts issued for beaches in Bonita Springs and Captiva

Karl Schneider
| Fort Myers News-Press


Health officials in Lee County are notifying beachgoers that two red tide blooms have been reported in beaches in Bonita Springs and on Captiva.

The Florida Department of Health in Lee issued alerts for Bonita Beach Park and South Seas Plantation Beach around 5 p.m. Friday.

“Some people may have mild and short-lived respiratory symptoms such as eye, nose and throat irritation similar to cold symptoms,” the alerts say. “Some individuals with breathing problems such as asthma might experience more severe symptoms.”

Red tide is caused by the naturally occurring Karenia brevis organism. Symptoms from red tide exposure should go away after a person leaves the area or heads inside, the alerts say.

“If symptoms do not subside, please contact your health care provider for evaluation,” a news release recommends.

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Reports of patchy red tide blooms in Lee and Collier counties have been popping up since December.

Beachgoers who may be concerned about red tide before heading out can head to various online tools to check current conditions, the most common being the Florida Fish and Wildlife’s daily sampling maps:

Red tide tips

Here are recommendations from the Florida Department of Health:

  • If you have chronic respiratory problems, be careful and consider staying away from the location as red tide can affect your breathing.
  • Do not harvest or eat shellfish and distressed or dead fish from areas with red tide. If fish are healthy, rinse fillets with tap or bottled water and throw out the guts.
  • Keep pets and livestock away from water, sea foam and dead sea life.
  • Residents living in beach areas with red tide are advised to close windows and run the air conditioner (making sure that the A/C filter is maintained according to manufacturer’s specifications).
  • If outdoors around red tide, residents may choose to wear paper filter masks, especially if onshore winds are blowing.
  • Florida Poison Control Centers have a toll-free 24/7 hotline for reporting of illnesses, including health effects from exposure to red tide at 1-888-232-8635.

Karl Schneider is an environment reporter also covering the City of Sanibel. Send tips and comments to Follow on Twitter @karlstartswithk

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