TAMPA (WFLA) – The Florida Department of Health in Sarasota County is notifying the public of elevated levels of red tide along the coast of Sarasota County.

Due to elevated counts of red tide from Monday’s beach water samples as well as reports of respiratory irritation the DOH will be posting signage tomorrow at several beaches to advise the public that red tide is present.

The beaches affected include Longboat Key, Bird Key Park (Ringling Causeway), North Lido Beach, Lido Casino, South Lido, Siesta Beach, Turtle Beach, Nokomis Beach, and North Jetty Beach.

Health officials like Steve Huard tell 8 On Your Side they want to make sure everyone is informed.

“They are very low levels of concentration at this point, however, because there is some irritation, respiratory irritation, we wanted to go ahead and put an alert out to the community,” Steve Huard with the Florida Department of Health Sarasota said.

Huard says individuals with breathing problems such as asthma might experience more severe symptoms.

Barbara Bush who is visiting family from Indiana tells 8 On Your Side says she has not experienced any effects while on her vacation.

“I read about it before we came, but no, not at all. We’ve been in the water a couple days and not having any issues whatsoever,” Bush said.

The DOH recommends those planning to go to the beach:

  • Do not swim around dead fish
  • If you have chronic respiratory problems, consider staying away from the beach as the 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, seafoam and dead sea life
  • Residents living in beach areas are advised to close windows and run the air conditioner (making sure 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

Huard hopes Mother Nature will put the red to bed.

“Currently the cell counts for the red tide are low, if we get some off shore winds it will just push everything off shore and that’s what we are all hoping for,” Huard said.

According to the FWC, red tide blooms generally happen in the late summer or fall so this is a bit early for this type of warning.

Florida Poison Control Centers have a toll-free 24/7 Hotline for reporting of illnesses, including health effects from exposure to red tide at 1-888-232-8635.