The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency released a warning urging people to avoid swimming in Minnesota waters is they observe blue-green algae.
Already, the blue-green algae blooms sent one child to hospital and killed two animals, according to official records. Blue-green algae are toxic both in contact with the skin and if accidentally ingested.
Both the child and the two pets that were infected with the blue-green algae blooms were reported in the area of Alexandria during June.
Not all algae found in our waters are harmful. Poisonous algae however, particularly those of blue-green algae have a specific smell, consistency and look that should make them easily spottable by any beachgoer and swimmer.
With the specific stench similar to cow manure and a latex-like consistency, or green paint, blue-green algae blooms are typically floating scum mats very close to shore. They thrive in rising temperatures and are rapid to develop.
Steve Heiskary, scientist at the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency stated:
“With the intermittent periods of rain, followed by high temperatures, blue-green algal blooms will be common on many lakes throughout Minnesota for the remainder of this summer.”
Lake Henry in Alexandria was sampled after the young boy blue-green algae infection case was reported. The MPCA released confirmation that the poisonous blooms are present in the water. The child is out of danger and has made a full recovery, yet two pets died after ingesting the contaminated water.
Spokespersons of the MPCA stated that in the case of Lake Henry, advisory and warning signs have been hung to warn swimmers and beachgoers alike to stay out of the water if they notice the blankets of floating green scum.
What brings blue-green algae to Minnesota waters are too many nutrients resulted for instance from agricultural practices that seep into the water raising levels of phosphorus for example. The green paint-like blankets are weather dependant.
While thriving in the warm temperatures and climates, a notch down in temperature levels makes them go away. Blue-green algae blooms are dispersed by wind as well. Their temporary presence, which is often fluctuating is hard to track across the state.
For this purpose, health authorities urge people to be cautious and observe the water they intend to enter. Upon entering a contaminated water, spores of the algae may infect the human body through skin contact, swallowing, breathing in airborne water droplets.
Symptoms of contamination with the blue-green algae bloom are vomiting, eye irritation, rash, diarrhea, a sore throat and coughing, as well as headaches.
For pets, the situation may be even more dire as they are not fended off by the smell, let alone the colour of the water.
Health authorities urge everyone who might have entered waters contaminated by the blue-green algae blooms and are experiencing any symptoms to seek medical care.
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