FDOH issues Orange Lake health alert

The Florida Department of Health (FDOH) in Alachua County issued a Health Alert after finding harmful blue-green algal toxins in Orange Lake.

According to a release sent Saturday, the Alachua County Environmental Protection Department tests results collected on March 1 indicated the unhealthy levels. Samples also collected from Lake Wauburg and Newnans Lake indicated only trace levels of toxins present in those lakes.

The FDOH listed the following guidelines for the public in and around Orange Lake:

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  • 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.

According to the FDOH, blue-green algae bacteria are common in Florida’s freshwater environments. The 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.

The FDOH issued a health alert for Newnans Lake on Feb. 22

For more information on algae blooms, visit the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) website, and to report a bloom, call the DEP’s hotline at 855-305-3903 or file a report on its website.

You can contact the Department of Health in Alachua County for more information on this bloom.

Orange Lake map

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