Health officials urge caution after blue-green algae reported on Hillsborough River

A water sample taken along the Hillsborough River north of Morris Bridge Road and West of I-75 showed the presence of blue-green algae, Hillsborough County health officials said. 

Blue-green algae is common in Florida's freshwater environments. It can make people and pets sick and can negatively impact the surrounding ecosystem. 

"The public should exercise caution in and around this area of the river," said Ryan L. Terry, a public information officer for the Hillsborough division of the Florida Department of Health

TJ Mallard, a regular visitor to the Hillsborough River, said the wildlife keeps him coming back. He said he's going to be more cautious in the area after the reports of blue-green algae.

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"I mean it kind of freaks me out a little bit," Stallard said. "I fish, sometimes my kids like to dip their toes in the water, it's alarming for sure."

Terry said blooms can happen when a rapid growth of algae lends to an accumulation of cells that discolor water and emits an odor. Officials are advising against swimming, boating and eating shellfish from the affected area. 

"Definitely wash your clothing and skin with soap and water if you come in contact with the algae, keep pets away from the area, definitely don’t drink water," Terry said.