What is Red Tide?
Red Tide occurs when algae in the water rapidly divide and release toxins. In our area, these algae is called Karenia brevis.
Usually, these algae is harmless and are an important part of the
ecosystem. The problem occurs when the algae rapidly divides, throwing
the ecosystem “out of balance”. The official terminology for this is
“harmful algal bloom” or HAB for short.
What causes Red Tide?
is a great deal of controversy regarding the cause of HAB. The current
information from Fish and Wildlife Research Institute states that it is a
natural phenomenon. There are others; however who have proposed that
pollution runoff is the cause of HAB.
What are some of the problems that Red Tide can cause?
Of course, when local marine life ingests the toxin, there can be a large number of deaths of the marine life.
Can Red Tide affect my health?
Red Tide can affect one’s health in two major ways. One is if you eat
seafood that has itself ingested a large amount of the HAB toxin. This
can lead to a form of food poisoning called Neurotoxic shellfish
poisoning. This causes both gastrointestinal symptoms as well as
neurologic problems such as numbness, tingling and difficulty walking.
However, these problems rarely lead to death.
Can Red Tide cause health problems if I don’t eat contaminated fish?
the toxin becomes airborne, it can cause respiratory problems such as
itching, burning eyes, runny nose and difficulty breathing
Who is at greater risk for breathing problems with Red Tide?
with underlying respiratory problems are at greater risk for serious
health problems from HAB. If you have asthma, allergies, COPD or other
respiratory disease, you should be particularly careful.
What should I do to protect myself from Red Tide?
is difficult to predict but there are ongoing efforts to create
prediction systems. Until then, you should monitor the occurrence of
HAB. When HAB is occurring, limit your outdoor exposure, especially at
the coastline. If necessary, wear a mask or scarf over your mouth and
nose. If you start having problems, see your doctor who may be able to
help you with medication or other treatments.
Where can I get more information?
There are many sources of information on Red Tide on the Internet. For more information, go to www.PanamaCityAllergy.com and click on the “Red Tide” button for links to some other helpful websites. For a good summary, you may also go to http://isurus.mote.org/~mhenry/WREDTIDE.html.