Health officials issue warning of blue-green algae at Lake Estelle

Orange County health officials are warning the public of blue-green algae at Lake Estelle in Orlando.

According to a press release from the Florida Department of Health in Orange County, a water sample was taken by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection during a recent site visit on Wednesday. During that visit, the presence of the blue-green algae was discovered.

“The public should exercise caution in and around Lake Estelle,” reads the press release from the county.

Blue-Green Algae spotted by health officials at Lake Estelle in Orlando
Blue-Green Algae spotted by health officials at Lake Estelle in Orlando

Residents are advised not to drink, swim, wade, use personal watercraft, water ski, or boat in waters where there is visible bloom on the lake, and to avoid getting water from the lake in the eyes, nose or mouth.

Keep pets and livestock away from the waters and do not eat any shellfish caught at the lake.

According to the department of health, blue-green algae are a type of bacteria that is common in Florida’s freshwater environments. A bloom occurs when rapid growth of algae leads to an accumulation of individual cells that discolor water and often produce floating mats that emit unpleasant odors. Blooms have the potential to produce toxins and conditions are dynamic and may change at any time.

The Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) collects algae samples from bloom locations for toxin analysis. Once completed, results are posted on the FDEP Algal Bloom Dashboard.

Some environmental factors that contribute to blue-green algae blooms are sunny days, warm water temperatures, still water conditions and excess nutrients. Many types of blue-green algae can produce toxins.

Blue-green algae blooms can impact human health and ecosystems, including fish and other aquatic animals. For additional information on potential health effects of algal blooms, visit floridahealth.gov/environmental-health/aquatic-toxins.

To report a bloom to FDEP, call the toll-free hotline at 855-305-3903 or report online. To report fish kills, contact the Florida Fish and Wildlife Research Institute at 1-800-636-0511. To report symptoms from exposure to a harmful algal bloom or any aquatic toxin to the Florida Poison Information Center, call 1-800-222-1222 to speak to a poison specialist immediately. Contact your veterinarian if you believe your pet has become ill after consuming or having contact with blue-green algae contaminated water. If you have other health questions or concerns about blue-green algae blooms, please call the Florida Department of Health in Orange County Algal Bloom Information Line at 407-723-5216.

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