Health officials issue warning over Doctors Lake algae bloom

Sample taken near Boy Scouts Camp reveals toxins 10x higher than EPA threshold

By Francine Frazier - Senior web producer
North Florida Land Trust photo

GREEN COVE SPRINGS, Fla. - After test results from Doctors Lake showed elevated toxin levels in an algae bloom, Clay County health officials issued a warning Wednesday to avoid bloom areas.

A sample taken July 24 showed toxins 10 times higher than the Environmental Protection Agency's threshold -- 4 micrograms per liter. 

According to the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, the sample, taken near the Boy Scouts Camp, came in at 41 micrograms per liter.

The EPA recommends against swimming in water with algae toxic above 4 micrograms per liter.

Clay County health officials said it's important to know when to swim, stick to shore or avoid naturally occurring living organisms like mosquitoes or algae blooms.

Exposure to water containing algae may cause gastrointestinal effects if swallowed and rash if touched or inhaled, officials said. Swimming in water with blue-green algae blooms may cause ear, eye and skin reactions, and hay fever and flu-like symptoms (including diarrhea) -- these reactions are not common. Algae blooms can also remove oxygen from the water and cause fish kills.

The department offers the following “Swim It, Shore It or Dodge It” reminders:

  • Swim It when blooms are not present. If you encounter a bloom, move to shore.
  • Shore It if you notice active blooms.
  • Dodge It avoid organisms that live in or near the water, and stay clear of algae blooms.

If you experience illness related to an algae bloom, please call the Florida Poison Control Center at 1- 800-222-1222.

For health-related questions, contact the Florida Department of Health in Clay County at 904-529-2800.

To view of map detailing when and where samples are taken around the state, visit the state Department of Environmental Protection's website.

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