Those looking to escape the heat this week should be wary of the lakes they choose to swim in.
Alberta Health Services has launched a health advisory for blue-green algae (cyanobacteria) blooms at Bear Lake and Saskatoon Lake.
Residents and visitors are being told to avoid any contact with the blooms — if they do, they should immediately wash the area with tap water.
You shouldn’t swim or wade in the water with the blue-green algae, says AHS. Pets should also be kept away from the water.
Consumption of whole fish from these lakes is also not recommended for people (or pets) as fish can carry toxins in their liver. AHS does say fish fillets can be safely consumed.
“Blue-green algae is naturally occurring and often becomes visible when weather conditions are calm,” said AHS.
The algae appears on the water surface like scum, grass clippings, fuzz or globs and is a blue-green, greenish-brown, brown, and/or pinkish-red colour and often smells musty or grassy, according to AHS.
“People who come in contact with visible blue-green algae or ingest water containing blue-green algae may experience skin irritation, rash, sore throat, sore red eyes, swollen lips, fever, nausea and vomiting or diarrhea,” says AHS.
“Symptoms usually appear within one to three hours and resolve in one to two days. Symptoms in children are often more pronounced; however, all humans are at risk of these symptoms.”
Visitors to Bear Lake and Saskatoon Lake can still use the lake for recreational activities in areas where the blue-green algae bloom is not visible, even with the health advisory in place.
AHS reminds people that weather and wind conditions can cause algae blooms to move on the lake so they should stay aware of conditions when recreating.
For more information or health concerns and blue-green algae, please call Health Link at 811. Additional information is also available online at ahs.ca/bga.
Jesse Boily, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Town & Country News