Red tide concerns impact urgent care, schools

Concerns about red tide are now so serious, it’s affecting both urgent cares and schools, and this may be just the beginning. 

With dead fish washing ashore and people complaining about burning throats and eyes, red tide is washing over Brevard County. The school district is now fighting back. 

“We’re ready, that if there are symptoms and they're experiencing discomfort on campus that they can suspend outside activities,” said Brevard Public Schools spokesperson Matt Reed. 

That decision will be up to principals on a case-by-case basis. Gemini Elementary has already ended outdoor activities. 

While some practices continue outside for now, there’s always a chance red tide could affect football games, swim meets and recess. 

“You have to be sensitive and aware that conditions change block by block sometimes,” said Reed. 

Symptoms vary person-to-person too, according to Dr. Bjorn Dimberg. 

“People who have underlying medical issues, especially asthma, COPD, cystic fibrosis, it can be more dangerous,” said Dr. Dimberg, the medical director at Atlantis Urgent Care.

With additional medical issues, he says symptoms could last four to five days. For everyone else, they typically last a few hours without any long-term health effects. 

“It’s more of a temporary irritant for most people.”

He’s seen 15% to 20% more patients at Atlantis Urgent Care in Indian Harbour Beach the last few days. All of them have complained about upper respiratory infections, but Dr. Dimberg says “it’s difficult to contribute it completely to red tide at this point.”

If you are experiencing symptoms, close your windows at home and steam up or humidify the room. Benadryl can also be helpful. 

But if your symptoms are so bad that you can’t breathe, see a doctor.