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Red tide creeping south, high levels impacting Sarasota and Manatee counties

LONGBOAT KEY – Red tide has been plaguing Tampa Bay and parts of Pinellas County for weeks. Now, the harmful algal bloom is making its way south.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s latest red tide sample map shows high concentrations of red tide from Anna Maria Island down to Turtle Beach on Siesta Key.

Officials with the Department of Health in Sarasota County posted red tide warning signs at all 16 beaches in the county.

“Red tide causes respiratory irritation, so as soon as we see the cell counts going up, we become worried and we want to make sure that the community understands that it can cause cold-like symptoms or even flu-like symptoms,” said Steve Huard with DOH Sarasota. “The great thing about it is, if you just remove yourself from the area, those symptoms typically go away very quickly,” he continued.