More than 240 individuals in Barra de Santo Antônio, on the coast of Alagoas, were admitted to a health unit this week due to seaweed poisoning, triggered by the phenomenon known as “Red Tide”. This rare event can occur in any coastal region, resulting from microorganism blooms, which may or may not be toxic.
Poisoning caused by the “red tide” mostly affected tourists who were staying at a resort on Praia de Carro Quebrado, which is located in Barra de Santo Antônio, on the coast of Alagoas.
On Thursday (1/02), 191 cases of poisoning were recorded. The number of infected bathers rose to 245 this Friday (02/02).
Understand the phenomenon
The name red tide is given because the algae that forms along the coast are reddish. If they are toxic, like those on the coast of Alagoas, microorganisms pass the toxins through wave spray. Bathers are affected when breathing contaminated air and may experience nausea, sore throat, stomach pain, cough, runny nose, nasal obstruction and signs of conjunctivitis.
A section of Carro Quebrado beach was closed to prevent the movement of people. Bans on the sale of fish and shellfish were also registered in some cities, to avoid the consumption of contaminated animals.
Factors such as high temperatures and drought facilitate the proliferation of algae, the appearance of which can be caused by environmental imbalance.
“They need nutrients to multiply and humans can interfere with the formation of these harmful algae due to the nutrients we throw into the water (garbage)”, explained professor at the Federal University of Alagoas and oceanographer Gabriel Le Campion.
Sérgio Silva, Secretary of the Environment of Barra de Santo Antônio, reported that the algae, coming from Pernambuco, migrated towards the coast of Alagoas. He mentioned that people were exposed to toxins through the air. According to Silva, the odor of algae is comparable to that of cooking gas.
In a statement, the Alagoas Tourism Secretariat said that “the authorities found that this is a temporary phenomenon and that there is no longer a risk for bathers in the localities” and that is why all beaches in the region are open for bathing.
The phenomenon should recede naturally, as microorganisms filter water and clean themselves, getting rid of toxins.
*With information from G1