SANTIAGO DE CHILE - A toxic algal bloom, affecting the archipelago of Chiloe in southern Chile, has now spread north to the region of Los Rios, some 400 kilometers away from where it was first reported nearly a month ago.
Chile's Health Minister, Carmen Castillo, on Wednesday declared a health alert in the region of Los Rios after the presence of the algae has been recorded on the south coast of the area.
"Everything indicates that the levels of toxin will increase, that's why we have taken that decision," warned deputy minister of Public Health, Jaime Burrows.
Meanwhile, the deputy minister of fishing and aquaculture, Raul Sunico said that it is a "dynamic" phenomenon.
The naturally occurring 'red tide' phenomenon, caused by the algal bloom, turns sea water red and can make seafood toxic.
Seafood contaminated by this natural phenomenon is harmful to human health and can cause paralysis and even death. Since 1972 the ingestion of seafood contaminated by red tide has killed 23 people in Chile.
Since April 29, authorities have declared a disaster area in some municipalities of the archipelago of Chiloe and issued a ban on the extraction of seafood.