LCHD warns of dangers of blue-green algae blooms
For the Tomahawk Leader
LINCOLN COUNTY – The Lincoln County Health Department (LCHD) earlier this month provided information regarding the dangers of blue-green algae blooms.
“Every year, we get reports of algal blooms in Lincoln County,” said Arianna Taylor, Environmental Health Technician for LCHD. “We want to make sure everyone is aware and taking safety measures to keep both themselves and their pets safe.”
“Blue-green algae thrives with sun, warm temperatures, and nutrient-filled water bodies,” LCHD explained. “When conditions are right, it can multiply very quickly and form a scum layer or mat on the top of the water. Water bodies with excess phosphorus and nitrogen carried in from farming, sewage, fertilizers, detergents, and other sources are especially prone to blue-green algae.”
LCHD noted that blue-green algae will be present from the water’s surface and have a paint-like sheen or pea soup appearance.
“It is mostly blue-green in color, but can be red-purple or even brown,” LCHD said. “It can sometimes be hard to tell whether an algae bloom is dangerous or not, so it is best to treat all algae as if it could be dangerous.”
Upon arriving to a beach or body of water, look for any postings and water quality notices before swimming, LCHD said. Before entering the water, do a visual inspection of the water to look for any signs of blue-green algae presence.
“If you think you or your pet may have come into contact with any blue-green algae blooms, rinse yourself and your pet immediately, do not let pets lick algae off, and get medical treatment right away,” LCHD stated.
Symptoms of blue-green algae contact in humans include:
- Sore throat
- Red skin
- Runny nose
- Difficulty breathing
- Itchy eyes
- Stomach pain
- Itchy skin
If you think you are experiencing symptoms related to the exposure to blue-green algae, contact your doctor or the Poison Information Hotline (800-222-1222) as soon as possible.
“Animals can get sick from contact, ingestion, or inhalation of water with blue-green algae blooms,” LCHD stated. “It is important to not let pets or livestock drink from water that is discolored or where you can see foam, scum, or mats of algae. If your pet displays symptoms such as sleepiness, difficulty breathing, weakness, seizures, vomiting, or diarrhea after contact with the water, contact your veterinarian right away.”
Reminders from LCHD:
- Do not boat, water ski, tube, etc. over water that has any of the characteristics of blue-green algae presence.
- Do not let children play with scum layers in the water.
- After any day spent around a body of water, it is recommended to shower and wash hands afterwards.
For more information on blue-green algae, visit the Wisconsin Department of Health Services website at www.dhs.wisconsin.gov/water/bg-algae/resources.htm.