Vt. Health Officials: Be on the Lookout for Blue-Green Algae

The Vermont Department of Health is reminding people to be on the lookout for blue-green algae in waters around the state this summer.

Health officials say algae blooms can produce toxins that can be harmful to people and animals. Exposure may cause minor skin rashes, sore throats, stomach problems, or more serious health problems.

Hot weather can contribute to the production of blue-green algae, and health officials say spotting it can be a challenge.

"Identifying cyanobacteria can be tricky because harmless algae and other organisms can look similar," said Bridget O'Brien, an environmental scientist for the Health Department. "But just like we avoid poison ivy by recognizing its tell-tale appearance, we can learn to avoid cyanobacteria."

The Vermont Department of Health has created a video to help people identify algae.

Beaches are closed if it's detected, but swimmers are sometimes the first people to spot the algae. 

"The water may look very discolored and also very uniform in color. It might look like a can of paint was spilled. It might be shiny or milky or opacque," Sarah Vose, the state toxicologist, said.

People can also check the department's online tracker to see where blue-green algae has been reported around the state.

So far, no cases of algae-related illnesses in humans have been reported this season.

 


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