By Ted Scouten

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MIAMI (CBSMiami) — One day after Palm Beach County officials confirmed the presence of red tide in their coastal waters, beaches in Miami-Dade and Broward counties are being tested as well.

The state is testing the beach water in both Miami-Dade and Broward and should have results by Thursday.

It’s not known if or when tests will be conducted in Monroe County.

Deerfield Beach, which remains closed Tuesday, is expecting its red tide text results on Wednesday.

The red tide has found its way to Florida’s east coast after being primarily on the west side of the state.

If confirmed, Deerfield Beach officials say they plan to post no swimming signs and close the city’s fishing pier.

Some beachgoers on Deerfield Beach Tuesday noticed the irritation.

“We’re getting out of here right now,” said Paul Ingraffia.

“Normally we’d spend the day. We’d spend a couple more hours, but we’re getting out now,” said Linda Ingraffia.

Paul and Linda Ingraffia cut their beach visit short after noticing breathing issues.

“You feel like you can’t breath, you got something in your throat and they say to watch out if you got respiratory issues,” said Paul.

“It feels like it catches your breath a little bit,” explained Linda.

“Better to be safe than sorry.  If you feel funny, you’re worried about it, go until everything is really cleared,” said Dr. Bill Louda.

Dr. Louda is a biochemist at Florida Atlantic University.  He said he’s surprised it took so long for red tide to get here.  It was likely swept around from the West Coast of Florida where the impact has been devastating.

“Hopefully as the waters get cooler hopefully these things will start to go away.  It’s just wait and see.  One of the big questions is how long is this going to take.  Ask the man upstairs,” Dr. Louda said.

In an abundance of caution, Palm Beach County beaches from Kruesler Park in Lake Worth north to the Martin County line will remain closed.

Lifeguards and staff at these locations are reporting continued irritation.

There are no reports of fish kills or effects from contact with the water. Parking lots, picnic areas, and pavilions not on the beach will be continue to be open.

A forecast from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) predicts that conditions could remain in the medium range through Friday in Palm Beach County.

The forecast suggests that the medium concentration of Red Tide can affect those with chronic respiratory issues and can cause mild symptoms to everyone else.

Late Tuesday, the FWC told CBS4 that they sampled Fort Lauderdale Beach on Monday and they expect results towards the end of the day on Wednesday.

The Florida red tide organism, known as K. brevis, produces brevetoxins that can affect the central nervous system of fish and other vertebrates, causing these animals to die.

Wave action can break open K. brevis cells and release these toxins into the air, leading to respiratory irritation in humans.

For people with severe or chronic respiratory conditions, such as emphysema or asthma, red tide can cause serious illness.

“The algae that we’re experiencing, this is our Flint, Michigan,” said environmentalist Eric Eikenberg from the Everglades Foundation.

Environmentalists say the red tide is made worse by blue green algae blooms from contaminated water released to the east and west from Lake Okeechobee. But they say there’s a simple solution which needs federal approval.

“There is as project that is pending in the United States Senate that would call for the construction of a reservoir south of Lake Okeechobee so that the lake water can be stored, cleaned and sent south where it belongs,” explained Eikenberg.

Florida’s Gulf Coast has been hit hard by red tide this summer, causing a massive die off of both fish and other sea life.

Officials say red tide is uncommon on the state’s Atlantic Coast, with only eight outbreaks since 1953.

There have been 57 Gulf Coast outbreaks since 1953.

Ted Scouten


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