People blame poor health on blue-green algae

CAPE CORAL, Fla. - Some people have posted pictures of their symptoms on social media. A few point the blame at the algal blooms that have washed ashore.

"I know all of our neighborhood is coughing and hacking," Heide Phillips said. Phillips, her husband, and two dogs live right by the water and blue-green algae in the Cape.

"I'm waking up gasping in the middle of the night, almost like an asthma attack," Phillips said.

Phillips said welts have sprouted on her back after prolonged exposure to the algal blooms.

"It reminds me of a teenage boy on steroids," Phillips said. "People who don't have allergies are all of a sudden having respiratory issues? That's the difference," she added.

Some others also blame the green algae for them not feeling like themselves.

"It's making me sick," Zelda Montaigne said by her boat in Cape Coral. "My chest is burning and real tight. My throat is itchy," she added.

A top doctor from Lee Health said Montaigne's symptoms are ones physicians usually encounter.

"If someone is having a reaction to something in the water, it would manifest first with respiratory symptoms," Dr. Salvatore Lacagnina said.

Dr. Lacagnina said patients usually complain of wheezing, shortness of breath, chronic cough, and running nose.

He said a trip to your primary care physician or urgent care facility would be a good idea.

"Just get it checked to make sure you're not missing anything serious," he said.

Dr. Lacagnina said he'd rather see people concern themselves with potential treatment options. He advises patients against putting too much time into diagnosing themselves.

"If you were well and now you went by the water and have symptoms, just get it checked out," he said. "If you see something on your body that wasn't there previously, just do the safe thing and have it looked at," he added.

A Lee Health spokesperson said the hospital system has not experienced a significant increase in respiratory-related illnesses across their emergency departments.

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