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Blue-green algae bloom alert issued for 3 Polk County lakes

To report an algal bloom to the Florida Department of Health, call the toll-free hotline at 855-305-3903.
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POLK COUNTY, Fla. — As the weather heats up and more people are splashing into nearby lakes, the Florida Health Department in Polk County has detected harmful blue-green algal toxins in three waterways in the area.

Water samples from Lake Hancock, Lake Crago and Lake Mattie Canal all showed a presence of blue-green algae. The health department said the public should use caution when in and around the lakes mentioned. 

Blue-green algae are a type of bacteria common to Florida freshwater environments, the FDOH reports. The bacteria accumulation is a result of the algae growing in the water at a rapid pace. The algae can cause discoloration to the water and produce floating mats that reek.

Sunny days, warm water temperatures, still water conditions and excess nutrients are all contributing factors to the bloom which are most frequent in the summer and fall.

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Blue-green algae blooms can produce toxins that are harmful to human health and ecosystems, including fish and other aquatic animals. 

Residents are advised to not drink, swim, wade or use personal watercraft where the bloom is present. 

In the event you come in contact with blue-green algae, FDOH says you should wash your skin and clothing with soap and water. Pets should also keep away from blue-green algae as it's not safe for them either. 

To report an algal bloom, call the Florida Department of Environmental Protection toll-free hotline at 855-305-3903 or report online. To report fish kills, contact the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission at 1-800-636-0511.

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