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Health alert issued for blue-green algal toxins in Lake Okeechobee

Sample was taken Tuesday by Florida Department of Health
Lake Okeechobee, view from Okeechobee County, June 18, 2021
Posted at 3:38 PM, Mar 16, 2024
and last updated 2024-03-16 15:39:41-04

PALM BEACH COUNTY — The Florida Department of Health in Okeechobee County on Saturday issued a health alert for the presence of harmful blue-green algal toxins in the northern side of Lake Okeechobee in response to a sample taken Tuesday.

The public should exercise caution in and around Lake Okeechobee LZ2, near Lake Okeechobee Park, the agency said in a news release. Blue-green algae blooms can impact human health and ecosystems, including fish and other aquatic animals.

Blue-green algae are a type of bacteria common in Florida’s freshwater environments, the agency said. A bloom occurs when rapid growth of algae leads to an accumulation of individual cells that discolor water and often produce floating mats that emit unpleasant odors.

 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.
  • 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.

For additional information on potential health effects of algal blooms, visit

To report a bloom contact the Florida Department of Environmental Protection at 855-305-3903 or online [].

Find current information about Florida’s water quality status and public health notifications for harmful algal blooms and beach conditions by visiting [].