Dr. Bayrun’s Blog re: Red Tide:
What is Red Tide?
There have been many families recently in the office that are asking about red tide, so I wanted to quickly talk about this subject.
So what exactly is this red tide? Red tide is a harmful algal bloom and is caused by the toxic dinoflagellate Karenia brevis. Blooms typically last until winter or spring but sometimes can remain for more than 1 year.
When inhaled, it can cause Aerosolized Red Tide Respiratory Irritation (ARTRI), which can cause symptoms such as nasal and respiratory irritation, runny nose, and bronchoconstriction (causes the airways to constrict causing a sensation of shortness of breath). Normally symptoms are temporary while exposed, but those with asthma or other chronic lung disease can have a flare up of respiratory symptoms. If having persistent symptoms, you should seek medical care.
When sea life is exposed to this algal bloom, it can cause large scale death, which if you have been to the beach recently you may have seen. People and animals (including pet dogs) who drink or come in contact with the water can also become sick. Exposure can cause eye and skin irritation. Ingestion can cause GI upset. Ingesting contaminated shellfish, can cause neurotoxic shellfish poisoning which can cause symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, dizziness, changes in speech, and tingling.
What does the Health Department recommend to do to protect your family from Red Tide?
-Check your local health department’s website for information about red tide.
-Look for signs posted at the beach for information regarding red tide
-Avoid coming in contact with affected water and dont let your animals near the water as well.
-Those with asthma or chronic lung disease should especially avoid the beach areas affected by red tide.
-If you live near a beach affected by red tide, make sure you close your windows and run your A/C. Make sure your filter is changed as per the manufacturer’s instructions.
-If you, your family, or a pet has come in contact with red tide, wash with soap and clean water as soon as possible. Wash your clothes that have come in contact with it as well.
-Consider wearing a mask if you are near an affected area.
-Avoid eating affected sealife. Cooking/heat it does not get rid of the red tide. Check out the health department website for specifics on what to avoid.
If exposed to red tide and having concerning symptoms, call 1-800-222-1222 to discuss with a poison specialist and seek medical care. Please report symptoms to the Florida Poison Information Center.
If your animal was exposed and having symptoms, contact their vet immediately.
If you have any further questions, please check out the Lee Health Department website (link below) or you can call the Florida Department of Health in Lee County at 239-690-2100.
2023_03_06-HealthOfficials Issue Red Tide Alert For Lee County | Florida Department of Health in Lee (floridahealth.gov)
2023_03_06-HealthOfficials Issue Red Tide Alert For Lee County | Florida Department of Health in Lee
HEALTH OFFICIALS ISSUE RED TIDE ALERT FOR LEE COUNTY