Andrew West / Fort Myers News-Press

FL - Is Red Tide Here? Tools to Help Beachgoers Plan Ahead

Reports of red tide patches up and down the Southwest Florida coast have started trickling in, just as the Christmas and New Year's holidays begin, where beaches are a popular destination for residents and visitors.

In the past week, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission found background to high levels of Karenia brevis, the organism in red tide, in 54 samples in and offshore of Lee and Collier counties. FWC defines background levels as having no effects while high levels can potentially cause respiratory irritation, fish kills and water discoloration.

FWC also reported fish kills and respiratory irritation in Lee and Collier.

On Monday, Lee County’s health department sent out four health alerts relating to the presence of red tide. Blooms were reported at Lighthouse Beach Park and Tarpon Bay Road Beach on Sanibel, the South Seas Plantation Beach Access on Captiva, Lynn Hall Park on Fort Myers Beach and Lover’s Key State Park in Estero.

“Some people may have mild and short-lived respiratory symptoms such as eye, nose and throat irritation similar to cold symptoms,” the alerts said. “Some individuals with breathing problems such as asthma might experience more severe symptoms.”

Lee County Department of Health spokeswoman Tammy Yzaguirre provided a list of recommendations beachgoers should keep in mind if visiting a beach when red tide is present.

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