SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (WTVO) — The Illinois Environmental Protection Agency is warning residents planning activities on Illinois lakes and rivers to be aware of potentially dangerous Blue-Green Algae (cyanobacteria).
The IEPA says Blue-Green Algae are microscopic organisms that occur in “blooms” on lakes and streams, and while most are harmless, some can produce a toxic chemical which can cause sickness and heath effects in people and pets, depending on the amount of exposure.
Sensitive individuals, including young children, the elderly, and people with compromised immune systems are most at risk to adverse health effects attributable to algal toxins.
Individuals are most often exposed to algal toxins while swimming or participating in other recreational activities in and on the water.
The most common routes of exposure are direct skin contact, accidental ingestion of contaminated water, or accidental inhalation of water droplets in the air.
Symptoms of exposure to algal toxins include rashes, hives, diarrhea, vomiting, coughing, or wheezing. More severe symptoms may result from longer or greater amounts of exposure.
People who plan to recreate in or on Illinois lakes or rivers this summer are advised to avoid contact with water that:
• looks like spilled, green or blue-green
• has surface scums, mats, or films;
• is discolored or has green-colored streaks; or
• has greenish globs suspended in the water below the surface.
People are also advised to keep children and pets out of the water. Do not allow pets to drink from the water and do not allow them to lick their fur after swimming in water containing a blue-green algae bloom.
If you or your pet has contact with water you suspect may have a blue-green algae bloom, rinse off with clean, fresh water as soon as possible.