Health alert issued for blue-green algal bloom in Lake Olivia

The algae produces a toxin that can cause ear, eye and skin reactions as well as flu-like symptoms.

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  • | 5:46 p.m. September 20, 2019
  • Southwest Orange
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The Florida Department of Health in Orange County has issued a health alert for Lake Olivia after toxins from blue-green algae were detected in the lake.

Water sampling studies conducted by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection have detected the presence of the microcystin toxin, which is produced by blue-green algae, in Lake Olivia located near Gotha Road and Hempel Avenue. County health officials will post signage regarding the algae at Lake Olivia at the north boat ramp until further notice, according to a release from the FDOH in Orange County.

Blue-green algae, also known as cyanobacteria, can grow naturally in many of Florida’s bodies of water. Large concentrations of blue-green algae, called blooms, can change the water color to blue, green, orange, brown or red. Although blooms occur throughout the year, they occur more frequently during the summer and fall.  Blue-green algae can grow rapidly, and sometimes form a foamy surface scum and have an unpleasant odor. Additionally, fish kills can occur in bodies of water with algae blooms because the blooms can remove oxygen from the water, according to the release.

Health officials warn against swallowing, swimming, using personal water crafts, water skiing or boating in waters where algae blooms are present. Exposure to the blooms can cause eye, skin and ear reactions as well as hay fever and flu-like symptoms like diarrhea. Individuals who are exposed to the algae should wash their skin and clothing with soap and water. Bodies of water with algae blooms also are unsafe for pets and livestock.