Residents cautioned of algal blooms in lakes

Pictured is a satellite view of Lake Michigan via the Great Lakes Region National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration satellite. (Courtesy Photo/NOAA CoastWatch)

LANSING – Michigan is known for its great lakes and many inland waterways that are perfect for outdoor recreation, but what people may not think about is the hidden dangers of algal blooms.

“Algal blooms are dense populations of algae. Some blooms are harmless, while others may contain blooming toxic organisms that can be detrimental to humans, pets and even aquatic life,” said Tom Reichard, director of Environmental Health at District Health Department No. 10 (DHD No. 10).

DHD No.10 is reminding people to exercise caution while enjoying the last few weeks of summer weather. The following tips are being recommended:

• Avoid direct contact with waterways that appear to be scummy or have a green shade;

• Do not drink untreated surface waters;

• Obey posted signage for public health advisories and/or beach closings; and

• Limit or avoid eating fish from algal bloom impacted areas.

People and pets can experience the following symptoms after algal bloom exposure:

• Rash, hives or skin blisters at skin contact site;

• Runny eyes and/or nose, sore throat, asthma-like symptoms or allergic reactions; and

• Diarrhea, vomiting, abdominal pain, weakness, tingly fingers, numbness, dizziness, difficulty breathing or even death resulting from ingesting contaminated water.

For those who think they have been exposed to algal blooms, take the following precautions:

• Remove yourself from the exposure and seek medical treatment if symptoms occur;

• Thoroughly rinse off pets with clean, fresh water if they swam in an area with algal blooms to avoid potential toxic ingestion from licking; and

• Seek medical or veterinary treatment as soon as possible if you think you or your pet may have been poisoned from algal bloom.

For more information, call for DHD No. 10 Environmental Health Division at (888) 217-3904.

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