ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — The Florida Department of Health issued a health alert Friday, warning of harmful blue-green algal toxins in part of Pinellas County.
A June 30 water sample revealed the toxins at Maximo Park near Sunshine Skyway Lane and Pinellas Point Drive South in St. Pete.
While blue-green algae is naturally-occurring and frequently found in Florida, the bacteria can accumulate rapidly and lead to floating smelly mats and water that changes color. Blooms are more frequently found in the warmer summer months. They can threaten the health of people and pets.
"The public should exercise caution in and around the water at Maximo Park," the health department wrote in an email. "Warning signs will be posted around the park to alert visitors."
The health department urged people in the area to consider the following precautions:
- Do not drink, swim, or boat in the waters where the algal bloom is visible
- Wash your hands and clothing with soap and water if you come into contact with water that is smelly, discolored or covered in algae
- Keep pets away from the water
- Avoid cooking with the affected water or cleaning dishes with it. Boiling the water will not eliminate this type of toxin.
- Any fish caught in the region should be filleted, rinsed well with tape or bottled water and cooked well. Do not eat the guts.
- Avoid eating shellfish from the water where the bloom is found.
City leaders in St. Pete are monitoring the bloom conditions, along with the state. Water samples continue to be taken.
Resources can be found below:
- To report a bloom to the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, call 855-305-3903.
- To report a fish kill to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Research Institute, call 1-800-636-0511.
- To report symptoms from exposure to an algal bloom, call the Florida Poison Information Center at 1-800-222-1222.
- If you believe your pet may have come into contact with contaminated water, call your veterinarian right away.
- To ask questions about blue-green algae blooms, contact the Department of Health in Pinellas County at 727-507-4336.
- To ask questions about local remediation efforts, call St. Pete's Water Resources Department at 727-893-7261.
Editor's Note: The video below is from 2020.