NewsCovering Florida


Checking in on the long-term impacts of Red Tide and your health

Posted at 6:08 PM, Mar 07, 2023
and last updated 2023-03-08 08:55:09-05

If you've been to any of our beaches during the Red Tide alerts you've seen it and smelled it. After speaking with a doctor you may not even realize what you're walking on, her advice, is to wear shoes when on these beaches during red tide.

"Any time there’s death of an animal there’s going to be a lot of bacterial growth so yes if they get a sharps injury or a dorsal fin the bacteria that are there can go into their foot and cause a serious infection," Doctor Marybeth Saunders, the Assistant Medical Director for Infection Prevention Lee Health said.

All this along with that cough you get from toxins during red tide, eye irritation, shortness of breath, but what about long term effects? Doctor Saunders says research is still taking place.

"On that research they have not pointed any certain direction as far as cancer, or how it may be affecting people neurologically. They're still studying what the long-term effects of red tide may be for people, and I think you know again Covid hampered those studies that started looking at the effects of red tide. There’s been research that’s been taking place here in Florida in the Sarasota area," says Dr. Saunders.

However, even with those alerts for red tide the beaches are still busy.

"People that throw caution to the wind and go ahead and get in the water that doesn’t smell good or look good and get some of that water they may get symptoms of nausea diarrhea stomach cramping," says Dr. Saunders.

Also, if you plan on taking your pets to the beach Doctor Saunders says red tide could affect them the same way.

"People can be affected by red tide and so can our pets and our pets are running around maybe drinking some of the water trying to eat the things that are on the beach so it places them at risk for the same problems they can develop diarrhea and get symptoms that may be respiratory symptoms runny nose," says Dr. Saunders.

If you are out along our beaches like many people have been and your cough persists for days - medical experts say to contact your physician.

A look at red tide in SWFL