Blue-green algae in Pelican Lake; warning against water contact or use
The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources has confirmed the presence of blue-green algae in Pelican Lake, located in the township of Pelican Lake, Oneida County. Swimmers, boaters and recreational users are urged to avoid direct contact with, or use of, water due to the toxins produced by this type of blue-green algae.
Blue-green algae, technically known as Cyanobacteria, are microscopic organisms that are naturally present in Wisconsin lakes, streams and ponds at low levels. When conditions are favorable, usually in summer, the number of algae can increase dramatically. The algal blooms appear as bright green in the water. Blue-green, white or brown foam, scum or mats can float on the water and accumulate along the shore. Some algal species produce toxins that, when ingested, can harm the neurological systems or livers of people, pets, livestock and wildlife.
Recreational exposure to toxic blue-green algae in humans can cause eye irritation, allergic skin rash, mouth ulcer, vomiting, diarrhea, and cold and flu-like symptoms. Liver failure, nerve damage and death have occurred in rare situations where large amounts of contaminated water were directly ingested. Those who feel they have been exposed to blue-green algae and are experiencing any of these symptoms should seek medical attention.
In pets, common symptoms include lethargy, vomiting, diarrhea, convulsions, difficult breathing and general weakness. Pets are especially susceptible to harmful algae blooms because they don’t naturally avoid green, scummy water. Because of their size, they suffer harm from ingesting a smaller amount of toxins. Those who feel their pets have been exposed to blue-green algae and are experiencing any of these symptoms should seek veterinary care immediately.
The Wisconsin Department of Health Services recommends the following for blue-green algae impacted waters:
- Take care that pets and livestock do not drink the water, swim through algae, scums or mats, or lick their fur after going in the water. Rinse pets in clean drinking water to remove algae from fur.
- Avoid wading, swimming, or jet or water skiing in water containing algae blooms, scums or mats. Always shower with soap after swimming in a lake and wash hands after coming in contact with lake water.
- Do not drink, cook or wash dishes with untreated surface water from these areas under any circumstances; common water purification techniques (e.g., camping filters, tablets and boiling) do not remove toxins.
- Limit or avoid eating fish; if fish are consumed, remove guts and liver, and rinse filets in clean drinking water.
- Get medical treatment immediately if poisoning of humans, pets or livestock by blue-green algae toxins is suspected. Be sure to alert the medical professional of the possible contact with blue-green algae.
The public is encouraged to report potential algae-related illnesses to the Wisconsin Department of Health Services by filling out an electronic form (dhs.wi.gov/eh/bluegreenalgae) or by calling 608-266-1120.
For more information on blue-green algae, log on to dhs.wisconsin.gov/eh/bluegreenalgae or dnr.wi.gov/lakes/bluegreenalgae.