POLK COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) — Health officials in Polk County issued blue-green algae bloom alerts for two areas along the Peace River.

Officials said the public should exercise caution in two spots along the Peace River.

The first area is located in Bartow at State Road 60. The second area is near the Ft. Meade Outdoor Recreation area.

The samples were taken on May 2.

The Polk County Health Department said residents and visitors should take the following precautions:

  • Residents and visitors are advised to take the following precautions:
  • 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.

Officials said blue-green algae is a type of bacteria that is common in Florida’s freshwater environments.

A 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 health department said. “Some environmental factors that contribute to blue-green algae blooms are sunny days, warm water temperatures, still water conditions and excess nutrients. Blooms can appear year-round but are more frequent in summer and fall. Many types of blue-green algae can produce toxins.”

To report a bloom, cal the Florida Department of Environmental Protection at 855-305-3903.