toxic algae bloom sweeping Florida’s southwest coast is being described as the worst in more than a decade, with the so-called red tide blanketing beaches in dead fish and killing sharks, manatees and endangered sea turtles.
The aggressive overgrowth, which occurs each year but intensifies with high temperatures, pollution and stagnant water, has become unusually strong since emerging in October, and has stretched into the longest outbreak since 2006, according to state wildlife officials.
According to Treasure Coast Newspapers, 15 people were recently treated at Martin Health System emergency rooms in Stuart over two days for symptoms consistent with algae toxins after coming in contact with the St. Lucie River, which is near West Palm Beach and Lake Okeechobee.
Inhaling, touching or ingesting the algae through contaminated water can cause respiratory illness, abdominal pain, vomiting, and neurologic effects, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Eating contaminated fish or shellfish also can cause illness.