As you spend your sunny days enjoying the beaches on the peninsula, there is a growing awareness of blue-green algae and its harmful effects if you come into contact. The blue-green algae, also called “pond scum,” is often green but it can also be blue, tan, and even reddish-purple. It typically grows and thrives in slow-moving environments like lakes, ponds, and some streams. A rule of thumb to identify the algae is if it looks akin to pea soup.
Symptoms of blue-green algae poisoning can include lethargy, loss of appetite, seizures and vomiting. For some people, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources Management Specialist Gina LaLiberte says it can even cause skin reactions.
LaLiberte says that blue-green algae is usually very visible. Blue-green algae is especially harmful for dogs, and she recommends either using longer toys when you play fetch in the water to mitigate the risk of swallowing it while retrieving or avoiding the algae altogether. Tips from the DNR on detecting blue-green algae can be found below.
- Do not let children play with scum layers, even from shore
- Do not let pets or livestock swim in or drink waters experiencing blue-green algae blooms
- Always shower after encountering any surface water
- Try to avoid swallowing lake water
- Wash dogs immediately after they swim.