Visit St. Pete/Clearwater, Pinellas County’s Convention & Visitors Bureau, provides us with this red tide August update, dated August 3:
We wanted to let you know that we’re closely monitoring the red tide bloom that’s south of our Gulf beaches, stretching from Sarasota County to Collier County, and have been in contact with Visit Florida, our international representatives and PR agencies.
To date, there have been no traces of red tide found on the coast of Pinellas County.
Red tide is caused by a naturally occurring algae in the Gulf of Mexico and a bloom happens whenever there is a higher-than-normal concentration. The higher levels south of our area have led to large fish kills, strong odors and breathing difficulties.
For more red tide information, reference this Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission (FWC) website. Of particular use is FWC’s red tide FAQ page, which provides helpful answers for visitors and residents alike.
Of course, we’ll continue to monitor this situation very closely and will share any relevant updates with you.
Adapted from the Wikipedia website:
Red tide can cause a variety of symptoms in those exposed to its airborne toxins including respiratory irritation, bronchoconstriction, coughing, wheezing and more. People have reported a decrease in respiratory function from as little as one hour of exposure to red tide toxins. Symptoms may last for days. Those with severe or persistent respiratory conditions (such as chronic lung disease or asthma) may experience stronger adverse reactions.
Humans can also ingest red tide toxins by consuming illegally harvested shellfish. In the United States, legally harvested seafood is tested regularly for toxins by the USDA to ensure safe consumption. Ingesting contaminated shellfish can cause Paralytic Shellfish Poisoning and Neurotoxic Shellfish Poisoning in humans. Some symptoms include: drowsiness, diarrhea, nausea, loss of motor control, tingling, numbing or aching of extremities, incoherence and respiratory paralysis. Reports of skin irritation after swimming in affected waters during a red tide outbreak are common.