Doctor advocates for SWFL blue-green algae focused CDC office

Reporter: Breana Ross
Published: Updated:
FILE: Image shows blue-green algae buildup around the Calusa Waterkeeper. (Credit: WINK News/FILE)

One doctor says the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention needs to open an office in Southwest Florida to address last year’s water quality crisis.

Peter Formica knows what it is like to live with blue-green algae in his Cape Coral backyard. He said he wakes up each morning, with crusty eyes, sinuses problems and a scratchy throat.

While the blue-green algae appears to have cleared out, Dr. Robert Zarranz said the health impacts are still a cause for concern.

“This is not an algae – this is a true bacteria,” Zarranz said. “I’m really concerned about the neurological impact.”

Impacts, he said, linked to diseases like Lou Gehrig’s, Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s. That is why Zarranz created petitions demanding the CDC open an office in Southwest Florida. He told WINK News that we are “ground zero for the problem,” as we live in the most contaminated area.

Zarranz belives a local office would provide a hands-on scientific study of the exposure and help monitor the effects of the toxins on the population. John Cassani, director of Calusa Waterkeeper, agrees with Zarranz that it would be helpful.

“We need, perhaps, all of the resources that a federal agency would have to bring to the issue here,” Cassani said.

But, Zarranz needs the help of government officials and your signatures to turn the petition into action.

“CDC has said that number one,” Zarranz said, “we really need the state requesting their help.”

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