Blue-green algae blooms are becoming increasingly common throughout the state, as a result of phosphorus pollution. This year, blue green algae has closed beaches and prompted warnings across the state including in Madison, in Lake Winnebago, and in Menomonie.
Blue green algae is more than a simple nuisance. Exposure to it can cause rashes, vomiting, diarrhea, severe respiratory illness, and even result in nerve and liver damage.
At Clean Wisconsin, we envision a future where all of Wisconsin’s lakes are safe to swim and fish in year-round. That’s why we’re fighting hard to reduce phosphorus pollution in our lakes, rivers and streams.
For this weekend, it’s a good idea to watch out for blue-green algae before entering the water. Below is the press release from the Department of health for further information:
WATCH FOR BLUE-GREEN ALGAE BEFORE JUMPING IN THE WATER THIS SUMMER
MADISON—State health officials are reminding families and pet owners to watch for blue-green algae in swimming and wading spots this summer.
“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 algae.”
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 algae.
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/.
-Contributed by Sam Weis, communications director