Officials warn public to stay out of portions of Hillsborough River, due to toxic blue-green algae blooms

And definitely don't drink the water.

click to enlarge The Hillsborough River, as seen from the Lettuce Lake obeservation tower. - Photo by Colin Wolf
Photo by Colin Wolf
The Hillsborough River, as seen from the Lettuce Lake obeservation tower.
Watch where you're swimming.

According to Hillsborough County health officials, harmful blue-green algae blooms were discovered in the Hillsborough River area north of Morris Bridge Road and West of I-75 on Aug. 4.

The Florida Department of Health (FDH) have since issued a health alert and warned the public to steer clear of the infected areas.

"Residents and visitors are advised to take the following precautions: Do not drink, swim, wade, use personal watercraft, water ski or boat in waters where there is a visible bloom," says the advisory. "Wash your skin and clothing with soap and water if you have contact with algae or discolored or smelly water."

Blue-green algae blooms are common in Florida, especially during the summer time, due to the combination of intense heat and nutrient-rich waters. These blooms discolor the waterways, emit odors and produce toxins that can make people and animals sick and harm the environment they exist in.
Varying levels of blue-green algae can be found throughout the Sunshine State. Within just the last thirty days, algae blooms have been found in St. Pete's Maximo Park and Harbor Isle and Lutz's Cooper Lake.

For additional information on potential health effects of algal blooms, visit the Florida Health website. Call the toll-free hotline at 855-305-3903 to report a bloom.
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