The Florida Fish and Wildlife has released preliminary test results that show that the waters off the coast of the Town of Palm Beach tested positive for very low-to-medium concentrations of the microorganism Karenia brevis that causes red tide. The red tides that are being experienced in Palm Beach originated in the Gulf of Mexico and were carried by currents to the east coast.
Red tide can produce health affects including eye irritation, itchy throat, and coughing. Beachgoers and lifeguards in the Town of Palm Beach have reported all of these effects. It is believed that these effects are primarily due to the inhalation of the aerosolized red tide toxins (especially the brevetoxins) within the sea spray as well as the contact of that sea spray with the eyes. The aerosol of contaminated salt spray can contain the red tide toxins, both in the water droplets and attached to salt particles; and these can spread by wave and wind conditions. The current heavy wave and high wind conditions appear to be directly contributing to the current red tide irritation problem along the shoreline.
The Town’s beaches remain closed at this time. Moderate red tide effects are expected to continue through Friday. The Town will continue to monitor the situation locally and will remain in consultation with the Florida Department of Health and the Florida Fish and Wildlife as to when the beaches will re-open.
People with respiratory problems (like asthma, emphysema or bronchitis) should avoid the beach area at this time. Anyone who goes to the beach and experiences symptoms including eye irritation, itchy throat, and coughing should leave the beach area and seek air conditioning (A/C). If symptoms persist, please seek medical attention or call 911.
The Florida Fish and Wildlife has posted a series of Frequently Asked Questions regarding Red Tide that may be helpful. These FAQ can be found online at http://myfwc.com/research/redtide/faq/