CDPH Urges Caution Related to Seasonal Blue-green Algae Blooms

 California Department of Public Health logoNews Release

August 24, 2016

CDPH Urges Caution Related to Seasonal Blue-green Algae Blooms

SACRAMENTO – California Department of Public Health (CDPH) Director and State
Public Health Officer Dr. Karen Smith urges recreational water users to avoid close
contact with water bodies containing blue-green algae. Since June of this year, bluegreen

algae blooms have been identified in more than two dozen freshwater reservoirs,
lakes and streams statewide.

A list of current algal blooms
is available online. The state recommends that people and
pets avoid contact with affected bodies of water.
“Boaters and swimmers across the state should be aware of posted signs that indicate
the presence of blue-green algae,” said Dr. Smith. “These blooms can produce toxins
that pose a health risk if the affected water is touched or swallowed. Signs of blue-green
algae poisoning include eye irritation, skin rashes, mouth ulcers, vomiting, diarrhea and
cold and flu-like symptoms.”

Blue-green algae poisoning is most common and symptoms, including death, can be
more severe in pets and livestock because they tend to drink the water from affected
lakes and reservoirs. Children and adults can experience serious injury to the liver,
kidney and nervous system if affected water is swallowed. Medical treatment should be
sought immediately if a person, pet or livestock is suspected to have blue-green algae

Blue-green algae, also called cyanobacteria, are microscopic bacteria that have been
found in freshwater lakes, rivers and streams across the state this summer. The algal
blooms can appear as blue-green, white or brown foam, scum or mats that typically float
on the water’s surface and collect along shorelines and boat ramp areas. Blooms are
caused by slow-moving warm water and high levels of nutrients in the water. They can
move, grow or shrink depending on conditions.

Common water purification techniques, including camping filters, tablets and boiling, do
not remove toxins from affected water.

The state recommends guidance for people who recreate at affected water bodies:

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 water
to remove algae from fur.

(916) 440-7259

Avoid wading, swimming, or jet or water skiing in water containing algae blooms,
scums or mats.

Do not drink, cook or wash dishes with untreated surface water from these areas
under any circumstances. Common water purification techniques, such as
camping filters, tablets and boiling, do not remove toxins.

People should not eat mussels or other bivalves collected from these areas. Limit
or avoid eating fish from these areas. If fish are consumed, remove the guts and
liver, and rinse filets in clean drinking water.

Get medical treatment immediately if you think that you, your children, your pet or
livestock might have been poisoned by blue-green algae toxins. Be sure to alert
the medical professional to the possible contact with blue-green algae. Also,
make sure to contact the local county public health department.

Additional Blue-Green Algae Resources:
California Department of Public Health
State Water Resources Control Board: California CyanoHAB Network
California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment: Information on
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency: CyanoHAB website
US Environmental Protection Agency: Anatoxin-a report