As summer temperatures rise, Orlando residents should be aware of the increase in health concerns related to warm water, namely blue-green algae and amoeba exposure.
Blue-green algae are water plants that sometimes occur in “blooms” or rapid growth spurts of algae that seem green, blue-green, or brown on the water’s surface. While most often found in standing water, lakes, and ponds, you can sometimes encounter it in larger bodies of water as well. Only some types of algae can produce toxins, but it is always bet to avoid it and stay out of any water that contains it. If you are exposed to the water, be sure to wash thoroughly with clean water.
If swallowed, toxic algae can cause diarrhea, nausea, cramps, fainting, numbness, dizziness, tingling and paralysis. Skin contact can cause rashes or irritation. Children and pets are at greatest risk.
Naegleria fowleri, commonly called amoebas, can cause a parasitic disease called amoebic meningoencephalitis (PAM), and it’s very rare, but it’s always better to be careful.
Tp avoid contracting the disease or any other water-borne infection, follow these steps:
- Avoid swimming in very warm water, especially if it is shallow and/or stagnant (not moving). The majority of PAM cases have resulted from exposure to water that is 26°C (80°F) or warmer.
- Avoid taking in water through the nose while swimming, diving, water skiing or jumping into water. A nose clip can be used to prevent water being forced up the nose.
- Stay out of the water if “No Swimming” signs are posted.
- Do not swim in swimming pools that are very warm or that are not properly maintained, even if the water is chlorinated. Naegleria fowleri is resistant to chlorine.