Health Advisory: toxins found in blue-green algae

SOUTH BEND, Ind. - The St. Joseph County Department of Health has issued a health advisory, urging residents to use caution, regarding algal toxins found in Dixon West Place Ditch, which feeds into the Kankakee River. 

Blue-green algae, common in Indiana's freshwater environments, blooms frequently in the summer and fall, in warm temperatures, and can be harmful to humans and animals. 

People and pets should avoid contact with algae blooms, floating scum or discolored water as exposure to blue-green algae can cause skin or eye irritation or diarrhea and vomiting if ingested. 

The St. Joseph County Department of Health provided these precautions: 

• Do not drink, swim, wade, or use personal watercraft or boats in waters with a visible bloom.

• Wash your skin and clothing with soap and water if you have contact with algae or discolored or smelly water.

 • Keep pets away from the area. Pets should not drink water when algae blooms are present. 

• Do not cook or clean dishes with water contaminated by algae blooms. Boiling the water will not eliminate the toxins.

 • Do not eat shellfish in waters with algae blooms.

 • Eating fillets from healthy fish caught in freshwater lakes and rivers experiencing blooms is safe. Rinse fish fillets with tap or bottled water, throw out the guts, and cook fish well.

Please seek medical attention if you think you have been exposed to blue-green algae. 

For more information about blue-green algae, visit the Indiana Department of Environmental Management. 

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