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BLUE GREEN ALGAL BLOOM - Health Alert for Lake Olivia near Gotha Road and Hempel Avenue in west Orange County

By Kent Donahue

September 20, 2019

The Florida Department of Health in Orange County (DOH-Orange) received a communication from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection that surface water sampling occurred in Orange County recently. 

From the sampling, toxins have been confirmed through laboratory identification for Lake Olivia near Gotha Road and Hempel Avenue in west Orange County. Location map link: Point Map

DOH-Orange issues a Health Alert for Lake Olivia for the presence of Microcystin Toxin, which is produced and release by blue green algae (cyanobacteria). 

DOH-Orange Environmental Health staff will post signage at Lake Olivia at the north boat ramp until further notice. 

Blue green algae (also known as cyanobacteria) can grow in many of Florida’s waterbodies. Large concentration, called blooms can change the water color to blue, green, brown, orange or red. Blooms can appear year-round but are more frequent in summer and fall. Blue green algae can grow rapidly and sometimes form a foamy surface scum and an unpleasant odor. Because algae blooms can remove oxygen from the water, fish kills can occur. 

Don’t swallow, swim, wade, use personal watercraft, water ski or boat in waters where there are algae blooms. Algae blooms can cause ear, eye and skin reactions and hay fever and flu-like symptoms like diarrhea. Wash your skin and clothing with soap and water if you have contact with algae, discolored or smelly water.

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. 

Don’t cook or clean dishes with water contaminated by algae blooms. Boiling the water will not eliminate the toxins. 

Fillets from healthy fish caught in freshwater lakes experiencing blooms are safe to eat. Rinse fish fillets with tap or bottled water, throw out the guts, and cook fish well. Do not eat shellfish from this location. 

To protect yourself, your family and your pets from cyanobacteria blooms:

  • Don’t swim, water ski, or boat in areas where the water is discolored or where you see foam, scum, or mats of algae on the water’s surface.
  • Do not allow children or pets to play in or drink scummy water.