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State issues blue-green algae alert for section of Lake Okeechobee

Lake Okeechobee
A partial view of Lake Okeechobee, Thursday, Oct. 19, 2017, in Clewiston, Fla. (AP Photo/Alan Diaz)

(PALM BEACH COUNTY)- Boaters beware, officials with the Florida Department of Health have issued a blue-green algae alert for a section of Lake Okeechobee.

The section of the lake, known as LZ40, sits approximately 9 miles WNW of Canal Point.

See a map here.

Water samples drawn from the area this week revealed the presence of the toxic algae but officials say drinking water is not being affected by the bloom.

Blue-green algae in Lake O is becoming more and more common during the summer months due in part to warm temperatures and excessive nutrients caused by fertilizer runoff from agricultural interest along the shore.

The foul-smelling algae can cause health issues in both humans and animals and can lead to fish die-offs.

Florida health officials advise the following:

  • Do not drink, swim, wade, use personal watercraft, water ski or boat in waters where there is a visible bloom.
  • Wash your skin and clothing with soap and water if you have contact with algae or discolored or smelly water.
  • Keep pets away from the area. Waters where there are algae blooms are not safe for animals. Pets and livestock should have a different source of water when algae blooms are present.
  • Do not cook or clean dishes with water contaminated by algae blooms. Boiling the water will not eliminate the toxins.
  • Eating fillets from healthy fish caught in freshwater lakes experiencing blooms is safe. Rinse fish fillets with tap or bottled water, throw out the guts and cook fish well.
  • Do not eat shellfish in waters with algae blooms.

Boaters and anglers on Lake Okeechobee are being asked to report any fish die-offs or blue-green algae sightings to the Florida Department of Health or the Florida Wildlife and Conservation Commission.