While enjoying the nice weather at local lakes, residents should continue avoiding contact with algae in water. Most algae in water are harmless, but exposure to toxins and other substances produced by harmful algal blooms can make people and animals sick.
Lakes that reported harmful algae blooms this summer included: Lake Moraine, Sunset Lake, Oneida Lake (including Lewis Point in Billington Bay and Sylvan and Verona Beaches), Craine Lake, and DeRuyter Lake. While public beaches and swim areas are closed for the season, boaters and swimmers in local lakes should continue to watch for and avoid swimming in areas containing visible algae. Algae blooms may appear and quickly clear up within a few days.
Algae can form harmful (toxic) algae blooms with unpleasant odors, discolor the water or produce floating rafts or scums on the surface of the water. The appearance of harmful algae blooms can vary in color. Colors can include shades of green, blue-green, yellow, brown, red, or white. You can’t tell by just looking at an algae bloom if it has harmful toxins. It you see an algae bloom in a lake or river, avoid it and report it to your county health department or report the observation to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservations (NYSDEC) hotline number at 518-402-8179.
Symptoms of illness from contact with harmful algae blooms may include diarrhea, nausea, or vomiting; skin, eye, or throat irritation; and allergic reactions or trouble breathing. Visit your healthcare provider if you, your family, or your animals have symptoms that may be related to an algae bloom exposure, and report your experience to your local health department.
Prevent Illness from Harmful Algae Blooms:
- While enjoying recreation on a lake, avoid swimming, fishing, or boating in areas of water with floating scum or that is strongly colored.
- If you come into contact with an algae bloom, immediately wash with soap and water and rinse well with clean water.
- Never drink, prepare food, cook, brush teeth or make ice with untreated surface water, even when there is no bloom visible.
Pay attention to and follow official advisory signs, press releases, and websites. Never swim at closed beaches. Contact the local health department if you have questions on the status of lake advisories.
For more information about algae blooms visit the New York State Department of Health website at health.ny.gov/harmfulalgae or contact Madison County Health Department’s Division of Environmental Health at 315-366-2526.