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Health Alert Issued In Pinellas As Red Tide Spreads North Along Coast

The Department of Health in Pinellas County sent out the alert on Friday as a red tide bloom that has been found in Tampa Bay and along the county's beaches spread north to Sand Key.

Officials in Pinellas County issued a health alert for the area’s beaches as an outbreak of red tide persisted off the coast and spread north to Sand Key south of Clearwater Beach.

Karenia brevis, the organism that causes red tide, has now been found in low to medium concentrations in Tampa Bay and off the beaches of Fort De Soto, Pass-a-Grille, Redington Beach, Redington Shores, Indian Shores and Sand Key.

In the health alert that was sent out Friday, the Florida Department of Health in Pinellas said the bloom could cause mild respiratory symptoms, such as eye, nose and throat irritation. People with asthma or other breathing problems could experience more severe symptoms, officials said.

They recommended that people who experience symptoms should stay off beaches and go into an air-conditioned space.

In its weekly update Friday, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission reported fish kills related to red tide in Pinellas, Hillsborough, Manatee and Lee counties. There were reports of respiratory irritation in Pinellas and Southwest Florida, the agency said.

The health department recommended that people in areas with red tide not swim with dead fish, or harvest and eat shellfish and distressed or dead fish. Additionally, pets should be kept away from water, sea foam and dead fish, officials said.

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Julio Ochoa is editor of Health News Florida.