SARASOTA, Fla. (WFLA) – The Florida Department of Health in Sarasota County warns the public of elevated levels of red tide detected at area beaches.

Officials say that some people may have “mild and short-lived” respiratory systems such as eye, nose, and throat irritation like those associated with the common cold or seasonal allergies.

Health officials recommend that people who are sensitive to red tide or are experiencing symptoms avoid the beach or go into an air-conditioned space.

Due to the elevated counts of red tide from Monday’s water samples, DOH-Sarasota says signage will be posted at several beaches to advise the public that red tide is present.

The beaches affected by the red tide include:

  • Longboat Key
  • Bird Key/Ringling Causeway
  • North Lido
  • South Lido
  • Siesta Key
  • Turtle
  • Nokomis

If you are at a beach with red tide present, the health department recommends:

  • Do not swim around dead fish.
  • If you have chronic respiratory problems, consider staying away from the beach as red tide can affect your breathing.
  •  Do not harvest or eat molluscan shellfish and distressed or dead fish. If fish are healthy, rinse fillets with tap or bottled water and throw out the guts.
  •  Keep pets and livestock away from water, sea foam, and dead sea life.
  • Residents living in beach areas who experience respiratory symptoms are advised to close windows and run the air conditioner (ensuring that the A/C filter is maintained according to the manufacturer’s specifications).
  • If outdoors, residents may choose to wear paper filter masks, especially if onshore winds are blowing.

For those experiencing illness from red tide exposure, the Florida Poison Control Centers have hotlines to report the effects. The center can be reached at 1-888-222-1222.