Red Tide : What It Is And Its Impact On Your Health
There has been a lot of publicity surrounding Floridas red tides recently, but you may not be aware that this phenomenon has been documented along the states Gulf Coast since the 1840s.
The moniker red tide describes the oceans red bloom, which is caused by a higher-than-normal concentration of a microscopic algae, or plant-like organisms. The Florida red tide organism, called Karenia brevis, produces a toxin that may kill marine animals and negatively affect humans.
When is Floridas red tide most prevalent? Karenia brevis blooms occur in the Gulf of Mexico almost every year, generally in late summer or early fall. Although these are most common off of the states central and southwestern coasts between
How Do You Get Updates Of Red Tide In Florida
Updates for red tide in Florida can be found on Gulf of Mexico Coastal Ocean Observing System , which is the first sustained tool to provide the public with a forecast focused on the movements and impacts of toxic algae blooms.
The GCOOS Red Tide Respiratory Forecast, which can be found here, provides a near real-time prediction of whether beachgoers can expect red tide conditions on a particular beach. This is update at three-hour increments throughout the day. This risk-level forecast for red tide respiratory impacts is activated in Florida and Texas.
Heres a video by GCOOS that gives more information about red tides:
What Can You Do
In general we can each do our part to help keep our waterways clean.
Even though we dont know everything yet about how human activity relates to a Florida red tide that has moved to shore, we know that there is the potential for coastal nutrients to influence blooms, and we certainly know that excess nutrients and other kinds of pollution flowing into our coastal ecosystems are generally bad for those systems and should be reduced.One way that we can each reduce nutrients in storms water runoff is to choose yard plants that require less fertilizer, use slow release fertilizer and minimize fertilizer use overall.
There are more tips on how to keep waterways clean here. scienceandenvironment.org/project/water-quality/For instance, being diligent about picking up pet waste.
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Could Florida Red Tide Affect My Pets
Just like people, pets may be affected by the Florida red tide. If you live close to the beach, consider bringing outdoor pets inside during a bloom to prevent respiratory irritation. If you are at the beach with your pets, do not allow them to play with dead fish or foam that may accumulate on the beach during or after a red tide. If your pet eats dead fish, it may get sick. If your pet swims in the red tide, wash it as soon as possible. Most dogs lick themselves after swimming and will consume any toxins on their fur.
Why Are Red Tides Harmful
Many red tides produce toxic chemicals that can affect both marine organisms and humans. The Florida red tide organism, K. brevis, produces brevetoxins that can affect the central nervous system of fish and other vertebrates, causing these animals to die. Wave action can break open K. brevis cells and release these toxins into the air, leading to respiratory irritation. For people with severe or chronic respiratory conditions, such as emphysema or asthma, red tide can cause serious illness. The red tide toxins can also accumulate in molluscan filter-feeders such as oysters and clams, which can lead to neurotoxic shellfish poisoning in people who consume contaminated shellfish.
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Is The Florida Red Tide Found In Estuaries Bays Or Freshwater Systems
The Florida red tide can be found in bays and estuaries but not in freshwater systems such as lakes and rivers. Because K. brevis cannot tolerate low-salinity waters for very long, blooms usually remain in salty coastal waters and do not penetrate upper reaches of estuaries. However, other harmful algae, including cyanobacteria , typically bloom in freshwater lakes and rivers.
A Rare Case Of Hypersensitivity Pneumonitis Due To Florida Red Tide
1Division of Pulmonary, Critical Care and Sleep Medicine, Department of Internal Medicine, University of Florida, 1600 SW Archer Rd, P.O. Box 100225, Gainesville, FL, USA
2Department of Radiology, University of Florida, 1600 SW Archer Rd, P.O. Box 100374, Gainesville, FL, USA
Florida red tides occur annually due to proliferation of the marine dinoflagellate Karenia brevis, which produces neurotoxins known as brevotoxins. Inhalational exposure to brevotoxins usually results in upper airway symptoms only. Rarely does exposure lead to lower respiratory tract symptoms as in our case. We report a case of a 50-year-old man who presented with a 4-week history of dyspnea after exposure to the red tide. Computed tomography of the chest showed diffuse bilateral ground glass opacities and interstitial thickening. Bronchoalveolar lavage cultures and cytology were negative. The patient was started on steroids. Over the next few weeks, the patients symptoms resolved. Repeat CT chest showed complete resolution of the ground glass opacities. Steroids were then tapered. Most patients who are exposed to algal blooms have self-limiting symptoms. Patients with asthma are particularly susceptible to worsening respiratory symptoms after exposure to brevotoxin aerosols. This case highlights that, in rare cases, exposure to red tide can results in severe lower respiratory tract symptoms.
1. Case Presentation
Conflicts of Interest
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Quick Answer: How Does The Red Tide Affect Humans
Many red tides produce toxic chemicals that can affect both marine organisms and humans. brevis cells and release these toxins into the air, leading to respiratory irritation. For people with severe or chronic respiratory conditions, such as emphysema or asthma, red tide can cause serious illness.
Existence Of A Natural Hazard
The hazard to humans from Kb blooms has increased chiefly as a consequence of the geometric growth of human coastal populations along the Gulf coast during the last century . Regardless of whether anthropogenic nutrients ultimately are found responsible for bloom initiation and maintenance, more humans are now potentially exposed to the blooms when they happen. Further, the naturehuman hazard swells and contracts with seasonal fluctuations of coastal tourists and part-time residents .
The environmental conditions for the human respiratory and neurological effects of Kb blooms are becoming clearer, and, where blooms are of sufficient densities, they are related sensibly to atmospheric conditions that favor aerosols. For example, qualitative, subjective measures of human respiratory irritation during Kb blooms at southwest Florida beaches have been found to be associated with higher levels of relative humidity and ocean temperature, lower levels of barometric pressure, and winds blowing perpendicularly toward the coast .
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How Can You Identify A Red Tide
The way to identify red tide is from the reddish-brown colour in the water caused by the harmful algae blooms. You may also identify red tide by the sulphur-like smell from the brevetoxins in the air, especially if the wind is blowing in an onshore direction, plus you may see dead fish on the beach.
Is It Safe To Swim In Red Tide
Its not advisable to swim in a red tide, as the harmful algae blooms responsible for the red tide can cause skin irritation, rashes and burning or it can cause sore eyes. Red tides often kill fish too and its not advisable to swim near dead fish, due to increased levels of bacteria in the water.
However, most people are not affected by a red tide at all, in which case its okay to swim in a red tide as long as you dont ingest the water. But you wont know until you swim in the harmful algae blooms whether youll be affected or not, so there is a risk of the toxins affecting you the first time you swim.
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Is It Ok To Eat Shellfish At A Restaurant Or Purchase Shellfish From A Seafood Market During A Red Tide
Yes. Store-bought and restaurant-served shellfish are safe to eat during a bloom because the shellfish industry is closely monitored by state agencies for shellfish safety. Commercially available shellfish are often not locally harvested and, if harvested locally, are tested for red tide toxins before they are sold. The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services closes shellfish harvest areas affected by Florida red tide.
What Are Some Hints For Visiting Beaches During Florida Red Tides
Check the marine forecast, fewer red tide toxins will be in the air with offshore winds.Check Mote’s Beach Conditions Reporting for conditions at the beach you plan to visit. visitbeaches.orgIf you experience respiratory irritation, wear a mask, such as a painter’s mask, that covers the nose and mouth to filter out marine aerosol particles that contain the red tide toxins.If you are asthmatic or have chronic lung disease, be vigilant about taking your prescribed medicines daily. The state health department recommends that people with such diseases avoid beaches that are being affected by red tides Always seek medical care if your symptoms worsen.For your home or motel room, keep your windows closed, the A/C on and check/change the unit’s filter.
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Is It Ok To Eat Recreationally Harvested Shellfish During A Red Tide
No. Recreational harvesting of bivalve molluscs such as hard clams, oysters and mussels from conditionally approved or approved shellfish harvesting areas is banned during red tide closures these organisms should not be harvested and eaten from any closed shellfish harvesting area to protect the public from neurotoxic shellfish poisoning . To determine whether or not harvesting of shellfish is permitted in an area, visit the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, Division of Aquaculture website. Edible parts of other animals commonly referred to as shellfish are not affected by the red tide organism and can be eaten. Do not eat the tomalley . During scallop season, locally harvested scallops from open scallop harvesting areas are also safe to eat as long as you eat only the muscle of the scallop and not the whole animal.In addition, illegally harvested and unregulated shellfish are particularly dangerous and should never be consumed. For example, coquina clams and molluscan predators, such as whelks that feed on toxic bivalves, readily accumulate toxins in their tissues. An illegal harvest is a dangerous harvest.
Is Red Tide Harmful To Humans
Red tide can be harmful to humans if they swim in the sea when a red tide is present and can be toxic if they eat shellfish or molluscs that have been gathered in a red tide. These harmful algae blooms which cause red tides can cause illness in humans that can be debilitating or even fatal.
Some people end up with respiratory problems and find it difficult to breathe. Others, including children, have had asthma attacks caused by the brevetoxins in the surrounding air, which is as a result of the red tide. Some asthma attacks have been so severe people have had to go to hospital for help.
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Can We Control Or Mitigate Floridas Red Tides
Currently there is no tried-and-true way to completely remove the Florida red tide algae and its impacts without potentially harming Gulf ecosystems. Mote scientists are studying control and mitigation methods that may benefit limited-tidal-exchange waterways, such as dead-end canals and small embayments in red tide-affected coastal communities.The harmful effects of Florida red tide are caused by toxins released when the organism Karenia brevis dies. Potential controls must kill the red tide organism, eliminate the toxins from the water and avoid harming the ecosystem. Controls must also be practical. Red tides vary greatly in size expanding as far as 10,000 square miles and can be present from the surface of the water to the seafloor.Over decades, scientists have worked to rule out ineffective control and mitigation strategies and redirect attention toward more promising ones..In the 1950s, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and State of Florida scientists used copper sulfate to attempt to eliminate a red tide in coastal Florida waters. Although the copper sulfate killed some of the red tide cells, it led to the release of toxins that, along with the copper sulfate, had negative effects on other marine organisms.
- Read FAQs about the new clay being tested from Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution.
As of 2018, Mote is investigating multiple potential control and mitigation tools:
How Can We Prevent The Red Tide From Happening
Make your yard more Ocean Friendly.
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Do Red Tides Occur Anywhere Else
Yes, many algae species cause red tides all over the world. Yet, the organism that causes Florida’s red tide, K. brevis, is found almost exclusively in the Gulf of Mexico from Mexico to Florida. Florida red tides can be transported around the Gulf of Mexico as coastal waters move with winds and currents. Some red tides have even been carried by the Gulf Stream current into the Atlantic Ocean as far north as Delaware.
How Long Does A Florida Red Tide Bloom Last
Red tides can last as little as a few weeks or longer than a year. They can even subside and then reoccur. The duration of a bloom in nearshore Florida waters depends on physical, chemical, biological and ecological conditions that influence its growth and persistence, including sunlight, nutrients and salinity, as well as the speed and direction of wind and water currents.
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What Algae Causes Red Tide In Florida
The tiny organism that causes red tides in Florida is an algae known as Karenia Brevis , which is found almost exclusively in the Gulf of Mexico. Red tides in the Gulf of Mexico can occur from Florida to Mexico and is moved around the gulf with the winds and currents.
You might like to watch this video from Fox 13 about Floridas red tide in June 2021.
Can A Hurricane Get Rid Of Red Tide
Past hurricanes have taken Red Tide blooms from the Tampa Bay area up to the Florida Panhandle, Stumpf said. A positive effect is that this storm may have spread the Red Tide out, and faster-growing cells, like diatoms, which split once or twice a day, could out-compete the Red Tide for nutrients, Ivey said.
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Will I Experience Respiratory Irritation During A Florida Red Tide
Some people experience respiratory irritation when the Florida red tide organism, K. brevis, is present and winds blow onshore. Offshore winds usually keep respiratory effects experienced by those on the shore to a minimum. The Florida Department of Health advises people with severe or chronic respiratory conditions, such as emphysema or asthma, to avoid red tide areas.
Can We Predict When And Where A Florida Red Tide Will Occur
Although the occurrence of a Florida red tide cannot be predicted, scientists can forecast its movement using wind and water current data once a bloom is located. Scientists also monitor the concentration of the red tide organism by collecting water samples routinely and in response to blooms. Red tide movement and concentration are important because the effects of a red tide, such as dead fish and human respiratory irritation, depend on these factors. The information provided by forecasting and monitoring allows people to make informed decisions regarding their beach-going activities. Currently, Mote Marine Laboratory, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s Fish and Wildlife Research Institute and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration provide status reports about Florida red tides to the public.
FWC weekly status updates: myfwc.com/research/redtide/National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration : coastalscience.noaa.gov/research/stressor-impacts-mitigation/hab-forecasts/gulf-of-mexico/
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What Does Red Tide Smell Like
Red tides smells like rotten eggs, which is a sulphur-like smell and is similar to decaying food, which has gone well on its way into the decaying process. The smell of red tide on the wind is enough to turn the stomach for anyone who smells it.
It is worth a caution if you suffer from any form of chronic respiratory disease, such as emphysema, asthma or bronchitis, as the toxins in the air can seriously affect these types of condition.
How Long Do Red Tide Symptoms Last
For most people the symptoms caused by red tide usually disappear within hours after being exposed to the toxins, once exposure is discontinued. But people with chronic respiratory conditions should be more cautious in red tide areas, as these individuals may take longer for the symptoms to subside.
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Is It Ok To Eat Local Finfish During A Red Tide
Yes, it is safe to eat local finfish as long as the fish are filleted before being eaten. Although toxins may accumulate in the guts of fish, these areas are disposed of when the fish are filleted. However, it is never a good idea to eat dead or distressed animals, especially in a red tide area, because the reason for the animal’s strange behavior or death cannot be absolutely known.
Lung Conditions Community Forum
I was diagnosed with copd in 2017. I had quit smoking 35 years ago. I had never even had a cold in my lungs ever. The only thing I can think of was I went deep sea fishing ,while we were out there fishing we noticed the bait we would catch was dying. To find out the Red tide was out and awful. By 2 weeks after the fishing trip I got so sick I thought I was dying. Strange things started happening like I got a blister the size of a 12 inch ruler on my back. I had pneumonia then my voice started acting really weird I could not talk. I started feeling better about 3 weeks after all this. My doctor sent me to a lung specialist to make sure my,pneumonia was gone. The doctor jumped off from his chair in shock he could not believe what he saw. He saw that I had copd of course it has been down hill since then. I have not been able to find a good lung Dr in my area that takes my insurance. I turned 65 and just found a lung clinic that just specializes in lung diease. I’m so excited. I’m praying following there plan I will have the best opportunity for my,lungs. I don’t think smoking is the only thing that can cause copd. My parents smoked when we were growing up. Any body out there that has children and you must smoke. Smoke outside away from them never smoke in the car with your kids even if your windows or open. Or you could give your children a death sentence
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