CONTACT: Beth Kaplan, (608) 266-1683
WATCH FOR BLUE-GREEN ALGAE BEFORE JUMPING IN THE WATER THIS SUMMER
MADISONState health officials are reminding families and pet
owners to watch for blue-green algae in swimming and wading spots this
"It's great to have fun in Wisconsin waters, but swimming in or
swallowing water with high levels of blue-green algae can make you
sick," said Dr. Henry Anderson, State Health Officer. "People
and pets should avoid swimming in a body of water with a lot of blue-green
Blue-green algae may bloom in lakes, rivers and ponds and some
blue-green algae produce toxins. Exposure to these algae can cause illness
in people and has caused death in both domestic animals and livestock.
Individuals can protect themselves, their family, and their pets by
avoiding contact with water containing visible amounts of blue-green
Algal blooms can form a thick, foul-smelling scum on the water's
surface that can look like paint or pea soup. Algal blooms range in color
from green and fluorescent blue to brown. Most adults will avoid entering
water with an algae bloom, but kids and pets can be hard to keep out of
the water - no matter how it looks or smells.
Many water-loving dogs will swim and drink from water regardless of
smell or appearance. It is important to remember that dogs exposed to
algae should be rinsed off following contact with waters experiencing a
bloom. Dogs often lick their fur after swimming and rinsing pets helps
decrease the chance of ingesting algal materials. Seek immediate
veterinary care if your pet develops any signs of illness after swimming
in a lake, river or pond
If you come in contact with a blue-green algae bloom, you may
experience eye, throat, nose or skin irritation and gastrointestinal
problems, such as vomiting or diarrhea. Symptoms typically appear a few
hours after exposure, but occasionally people feel ill several days after
exposure. Contact a physician if you experience muscle cramps, respiratory
difficulties, nausea or vomiting following swimming in a lake or river.
"It's a good idea to wash with clean water after playing or
swimming in any lake or river, and, as always, to wash hands before
eating," Anderson said.
To report an algae-related illness, or for additional information, call
the Department of Health Services at (608) 266-1120 or visit: http://www.dhs.wisconsin.gov/eh/bluegreenalgae/.
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Last Revised: July 14, 2011