Officials in the Lake Buchanan area of Orlando, Florida are investigating whether a potentially toxic algae bloom is making residents in the area sick.
Residents of an apartment complex that surrounds Lake Buchanan have complained of a horrendous smell emanating from the lake. They are also experiencing significant allergy type symptoms such as burning and itching eyes, nasal congestion, sore throats, headaches and runny noses.
Tasha Jones, a resident of the apartment complex told WKMG:
"I'm sneezing and my nose is running and my eyes are all watery like, or itchy. Even people like walking along on the sidewalks, you'll see them coming by like, 'What's that smell?'"
Officials with the Orange County Environmental Protection Division have begun to take water samples from the lake in an attempt to figure out what type of blue green algae is inhabiting the lake. Not all blue green algae is considered toxic. One form of the algae, called Cyanobacteria, is dangerous however. Cyanobaceria can kill pets, waterfowl, and other animals, as well as causing serious illness or even death in humans. People coming in contact with Cyanobacteria infested water can develop a severe skin rash. People who ingests the water or eat fish that live in lakes or ponds containing the algae, can experience muscle weakness, vomiting, diarrhea, and/or nausea according to the Tacoma Health Department.
Algae found floating in Orlando, Florida's Lake Buchanan.
The toxic algae blooms form in slow-moving warm waters that are high in nutrients from fertilizers or septic tank overflows. The blooms, which normally float to the surface and can be several inches thick, can cause clear water to become cloudy. The CDC (Center for Disease Control) states that toxic algae blooms occur most frequently during the late summer or early fall months.
Julie Bortles, an Orange County Environmental Protection Division supervisor, told WKMG:
"The smell is probably not dangerous, but actual physical contact with the algae could be."