Algae bloom leads health officials to issue warning for Lake Hamilton ahead of holiday weekend

The Florida Department of Health is warning people to stay away from a recreational spot in Polk County this holiday weekend.  

As Memorial Day weekend approaches, a lot of people have plans of heading off to play on the water at the beach or at a lake, but health officials are asking people to stay away from Lake Hamilton as blue-green algae continues to bloom.

The algae bloom can mean trouble if people if they come into contact with the water so the department is telling people not to fish, swim or boat at the lake.

"Rashes, skin irritation, stomach cramps, nausea, vomiting. Some people who are very sensitive to smell can get respiratory irritation," she explained to FOX 13.

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Even though boating may seem safe to many people, Acosta-Torres says it may not be.

"The risk with boating is that there is a lot of mist and if you inhale that irritant, it can cause lung irritation," she said.

Algae blooms are common when the weather turns sunny and warm.

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As a result, the algae grows explosively and starts sucking the oxygen out of the water. With less oxygen in the water than normal, fish can begin to die off.

By all accounts, the situation is not that bad at Lake Hamilton.

On Thursday, Sean Seney was fishing at the lake and stopped when FOX 13 told him about the warning. 

"As soon as I get home, and I am going to take a shower and wash all that stuff off," he commented after acknowledging he had waded in the water.

The health department says the warning will be in place for another month unless the water quality improves.