People and pets are at risk of getting infected with cyanobacteria from blue-green algae
(Mirror Daily, United States) – On July 7th, the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM), together with the Rhode Island Department of Health (DOH) issued an advisory warning people to stay away from St. Mary’s Pond in Portsmouth. The pond is full of green-blue algae blooms, which produce incredibly toxic cyanobacteria.
Protect yourself from cyanobacteria
After discovering high quantities of blue-green algae in the pond, authorities decided to warn people of the dangers of exposing oneself to cyanobacteria. Therefore, people should avoid fishing, swimming, or drinking infested water. The same warning applies to their pets, who are also sensitive to such toxins.
The warning should be taken seriously, since St. Mary’s Pond is an important drinking water source for residents of Newport, Portsmouth, and Middletown. Tap water comes from this source, together with nine other reservoirs, and is usually safe to drink.
Most of the time, humans are responsible with the spread of the bacteria
However, this time, high levels of nitrogen and phosphorus contributed to the expansion of these toxic blooms. The causes of this sudden outburst are varied, but it is mostly the result of animal waste or agricultural fertilizers dumped in the water, or of stormwater runoff.
If you come into contact with water containing cyanobacteria, you might experience skin, throat, eye, or nose irritation. Drinking toxic water might lead to diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, or stomach ache. In rare cases, symptoms might become more severe, such as fever, headache, dizziness, and damage on the liver and the nervous system.
After treatment, the water becomes safe for drinking, but keep away from untreated waterbodies which either have a thick algae layer on their surface, or have a bright-green hue. Also, the water has an unusual thickness. If it looks like that, it means it is full of toxic cyanobacteria, and should keep away from it.
Image Source: Wikimedia Commons