CLAY COUNTY, Fla. – The Florida Department of Health in Clay County on Wednesday issued a health alert for parts of Doctors Lake due to harmful blue-green algal toxins found in the water.
The alert is for the area in and around Doctors Lake at Camp Echockotee, near Lucy Branch and at the end of Lawrence Road.
According to the county health department, people should be careful and take the following precautions:
- Do not drink, swim, wade, use personal watercraft, water ski or boat in waters where there is a visible bloom.
- Wash your skin and clothing with soap and water if you have contact with algae or discolored or smelly water.
- Keep pets away from the area. Waters where there are 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.
Blue-green algae are a type of bacteria that is common in Florida’s freshwater environments. A bloom occurs when the rapid growth of algae leads to an accumulation of individual cells that discolor water and often produce floating mats that emit unpleasant odors.
Some environmental factors that contribute to blue-green algae blooms are sunny days, warm water temperatures, still water conditions and excess nutrients. Blooms can appear year-round but are more frequent in summer and fall. Many types of blue-green algae can produce toxins.
The Florida Department of Environmental Protection collects and analyzes algal bloom samples. To report a bloom to the department, call the toll-free hotline at 855-305-3903 or click here.
Blue-green algae blooms can impact human health and ecosystems, including fish, and other aquatic animals. Visit the state Department of Health’s website for more information on the potential health effects of algal blooms.
You’re urged to 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, you’re advised to call the Clay County health department at 904-278-3784.