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Toxic algae health warning issued for Port Mayaca Lock and Dam

Toxic algae health warning issued for Port Mayaca Lock and Dam

Toxic algae health warning issued for Port Mayaca Lock and Dam

The public should avoid contact with the water on the eastern shoreline of Lake Okeechobee at the Port Mayaca Lock and Dam, which contains toxic algae traces, state officials warned Monday.  

The potentially harmful cyanobacteria, commonly called blue-green algae, contained 0.25 parts per billion of the toxin microcystin on Dec. 27, according to the latest Florida Department of Environmental Protection data. 

At 8 parts per billion, the toxin makes water too hazardous to touch, ingest or inhale for people, pets and wildlife, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.

A Sept. 27 health advisory for waters in the C-44 Canal near the St. Lucie Lock and Dam was lifted Nov. 30, along with the months-long advisories at Port Mayaca.

Monday’s advisory, announced by the Florida Department of Health office in Martin County,marks the first algae alert of the year for the Treasure Coast. Such alerts are  most common in the hotter, wetter summer months. 

The DOH advises residents and visitors to take these following precautions:

  • Do not drink, swim, wade, use personal watercraft, water ski or boat in waters where there is a visible blue-green algae bloom.
  • Wash your skin and clothing with soap and water if you have contact with algae or water that’s discolored or smelly.
  • Keep pets away from the area. Water containing algae blooms are not safe for animals. Pets and livestock should have a different source of water when algae blooms are present.
  • Do not cook or clean dishes with water contaminated by algae blooms. Boiling the water will not eliminate the toxins.
  • Eating fillets from healthy fish caught in freshwater lakes experiencing blooms is safe. Rinse fish fillets with tap or bottled water, throw out the guts and cook fish well.
  • Do not eat shellfish in waters with algae blooms.

What do I do if I see an algal bloom?

  • The Florida Department of Environmental Protection collects and analyzes algal bloom samples. Report a bloom to DEP online or via its toll-free hotline at 855-305-3903.
  • Report fish kills to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Research Institute at 800-636-0511.
  • Report symptoms from exposure to a harmful algal bloom or any aquatic toxin to the Florida Poison Information Center at 800-222-1222.
  • Contact your veterinarian if you believe your pet has become ill after consuming or having contact with water containing blue-green algae.
  • If you have other health questions or concerns about blue-green algae blooms, call the Florida Department of Health in Martin County at 772-221-4000.

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