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UPDATE: Blue-green algae prompts health warning from Alberta officials

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Cheryl Santa Maria
Digital Reporter

Thursday, July 10, 2014, 5:58 PM -

UPDATE: The following lakes from across the province have since been added to Alberta's health advisory: Moonshine, George, Winagami, Muriel, Baptiste, Pine, and Clear Lake. In addition, Lake Isle, Twin Valley Reservoir, and Severn Creek Reservoir have made the list. The public is advised to refrain from drinking or swimming in the water, and to avoid contact with blue-green algae along the shoreline.

Alberta Health Services (AHS) is advising people and their pets to stay out of the water following an outbreak of blue-green algae (cyanobacteria) on Pigeon and Coal Lake.

According to the agency, ingesting water containing blue-green algae can be fatal to some animals and can cause serious illness in humans.

People are being told to avoid swimming in and drinking water from the contaminated lakes, even if it has been boiled.

AHS also warns people not to feed fish from the lakes to their pets.


RELATED: Increased algae likely for Lake Erie this summer


This is the fourth year in a row AHS has had to issue a blue-green algae advisory for Pigeon Lake. Officials say that runoff from lawn fertilizer has contributed to the problem.

"Blue-green algae ... are found naturally in many lakes, ponds and reservoirs," AHS writes.

"These algae, given the right conditions, may multiply significantly in summer months causing extensive growths referred to as blooms."

The advisory will remain in effect until further notice.

Residents can call 1-866-408-5465 for more information.

SYMPTOMS OF THE TOXIN

Coming into contact with cyanobacteria can cause:

  • Skin irritation
  • Sore throat
  • Red eyes
  • Swollen lips 
  • Hay fever-like reactions

Drinking water containing the toxin can cause:

  • Nausea
  • Stomach cramps
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Muscle and joint pain
  • Weakness
  • Liver damage

"Children may be more intensely affected because they tend to spend more time in the water and may accidentally ingest contaminated shoreline water," AHS adds.

RELATED VIDEO: ALGAE IN THE MISSISSIPPI RIVER, AUGUST 2013:

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