While summer and spring are the much-awaited seasons in the US due to warmer water temperature and perfect weather to soak up the sun, these are also the best time for algae to proliferate. In fact, Kentucky and Indiana officials have already issued warnings to their people about the potential health issues these cynocbacteria and algae blooms bring.
These toxic or algae blooms may be present in lakes, rivers and reservoirs. Therefore, state officials are religiously sending out awareness for people to stay away from these areas to avoid illnesses. The said warning was also served to pet owners due to reported cases of dog deaths occurring during the toxic season. State officials are also encouraging local water utilities to watch out for toxic algae and take treatment steps if needed.
However, not all water sources in affected states are being monitored. In Oregon, only a fraction of water sources are being monitored; hence, the public don’t rely on official state warnings and just take precautionary measures on their own. The major characteristics of algae blooms are the following:
- Foul smell
- Foamy, scummy and thick like paint
- Pea-green, blue-green or brownish-red in color
If the above-mentioned characteristics are present in the water, it is contaminated.
People exposed to water-infected algal blooms experience a variety of symptoms. It is important not to underestimate these symptoms as they can be serious and might lead to death. Some common symptoms are skin rash, diarrhea, cramps, vomiting, numbness, dizziness and fainting. Unfortunately, people with weak immune systems are vulnerable to these symptoms. Here are some guidelines to help lower your exposure to harmful algal blooms or HABs:
- Avoid direct contact with water including activities like swimming, fishing, paddling, diving and water skiing.
- If skin got exposed to blue-green bacteria, rinse off the affected area ASAP!
- For dogs: DO NOT let them lick algae off their fur.
- Do not delay. It is a MUST to seek medical treatment. Notify the medical provider of the algae exposure.
Meanwhile, NASA together with other federal agencies such as National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), U.S. Geological Survey and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said in a press release that they are working on an early warning system for algal blooms. Researchers are developing a mobile app to inform water quality managers of changes in water quality using satellite data.
Many states regularly experience harmful algal blooms (HABs), and state public health departments are often asked to provide guidance about HAB-associated human and animal illnesses. HAB subject matter experts help states to develop their public health responses to HAB events, including providing outreach and education materials, assessing exposure as well as the potential for health effects.
Essentially, these harmful algal blooms can be prevented depending on water treatment techniques. In fact, there is an algae removal system that can help combat these harmful algal blooms. Once the water has been cured, it is back to normal and is safe to drink again.