Monday, June 4, 2018

Beware of Toxic Algal Blooms While at Lakes or Rivers this Summer

Harmful algal blooms, also known as blue-green algae, which are polluting lakes, rivers and swimming holes throughout the U.S, are a growing problem- here in Texas as well. Usually algal blooms are easy to spot as they turn water smelly and slimy, so most of the time parents should be able to determine if the water looks safe to let children or pets play in it. Below is some information that can help you you’re your family safe this summer:

It can sometimes be difficult to identify algal blooms just by looking at a pond, river, or lake. Scientists and public health officials use specialized tests to identify these harmful algal blooms, and to determine when the risk of algal toxins has passed.
If the water looks like some type of green soup, it is most likely full of this nasty bacteria. This blue - green algae is an ancient organism that is a type of bacteria called cyanobacteria, which can grow wherever there is water.  This bacteria containing cyanobacteria can make people sick through the toxic substances they produce.

These cyanotoxins can cause:

·         Rashes
·         Itching
·         Vomiting
·         Diarrhea and headaches
·         And, in rare cases, can cause seizures, paralysis and liver failure, which can be deadly

Such severe poisonings are rare, but children are most at risk. Even if they don’t swim in the contaminated water, children are especially vulnerable to cyanotoxins. Children could potentially inhale cyanotoxins when playing along the shoreline, boating or by splashing water. Small children are known to put their hands in their mouth after touching just about anything, including this contaminated water. Teens should also be made aware of this as they aren’t always careful about where they swim.   

Symptoms can develop within hours of exposure. Seek immediate medical attention if you suspect you or your child has been exposed to a harmful algal bloom. Physicians can report algal poisoning events to state agencies that test water and post warning signs. Keep in mind, harmful algal blooms aren’t just a problem in freshwater – they can also be found in salt water and brackish water.

So be careful out there this summer and if you come in contact with anything poisonous, please contact the Texas Poison Network at 1-800-222-1222.

TIP!  Read and follow any posted warnings. If the lake or pond looks green or another strong color such as blue, yellow or brown, it should most likely be avoided. The water could contain harmful cyanotoxins.