Blue-Green Algae Time Means Caution For People, Pets

Jul 11, 2017

Blue-green algae
Credit Wikimedia Commons Willem van Aken

People heading out to lakes and rivers are reminded to be on the lookout this summer for blue-green algae blooms on water bodies across the state. Some blue-green algae are capable of making toxins that can cause illnesses for people and animals who accidentally ingest or inhale water containing algae, or have prolonged skin contact with the algae.

DNR blue-green algae coordinator Gina LaLiberte says blue-green algae are a photosynthetic bacteria in every lake and river in Wisconsin...

"....typically in the hot summer months is when blue-green algae really start to proliferate, especially in systems that have a lot of nutrients in them...."

LaLiberte says the toxins can be dangerous for people and pets...

"....those people and animals can become ill from ingesting those toxins from accidentally swallowing water or inhaling droplets for instance it they are waterskiing through a bloom and some people have allergic reactions to the toxins on their skin as well...."

She says steer clear of the algae....

"....anytime you see discolored water such as turquoise, or white or brown, surface scum or opaque green water or foamy mats on the water, be concerned that it could be blue-green algae and try to find better places for swimming...."

Animals have a higher risk of dying after exposure to blue-green algal toxins because they are smaller in size and may ingest large amounts of toxins from drinking lake, pond, or river water or licking algae from their coat. More information is here.