A toxic blue-green algae bloom found in a pond that claimed the lives of three dogs in North Carolina, and one dog in Georgia, has now been found right here in Maryland.
The News & Observer reports, “When conditions are right, blue-green algae can multiply and accumulate rapidly,” according to North Carolina public health officials. The algae is most likely to bloom in hot summer months in lakes and ponds that do not have good water flow, the state Department of Health and Human Services said. “The algae can cause skin irritation or respiratory irritation in people who get in the water or handle the algae. Some blooms of blue-green algae can produce chemicals that are toxic to animals and people who drink the untreated water,” according to DHHS."
Just before the Fourth of July holiday, Anne Arundel County officials warned of a harmful blue-green algae bloom in Lake Waterford in Pasadena. Residents were warned to avoid direct water contact and keep pets away from the affected body of water. Two weeks after that, officials found potentially harmful algae in the North East River near Charlestown in Cecil County.
If you believe you've come in contact with toxic algae, officials encourage you to wash your body and clothes with clean, warm soapy water afterward and see a doctor if skin irritation occurs. They also advise fish caught in affected waters should have fat, skin and organs removed, be rinsed and cooked thoroughly before eating.
- “Keep children and pets away from waters that appear discolored or scummy.
- “Do not handle or touch large accumulations (“scums” or mats) of algae.
- “Do not water ski or jet ski over algal mats.
- “Do not use scummy water for cleaning or irrigation.
- “If you accidentally come into contact with an algal bloom, wash thoroughly.
- “If your pet appears to stumble, stagger, or collapse after being in a pond, lake or river, seek veterinary care immediately.
- “If your child appears ill after being in waters containing a bloom, seek medical care immediately.
- “If you are unsure whether or not a bloom is present, it is best to stay out of the water.”