State officials remind public to avoid Fontana Lake algal bloom

Raleigh, NC

Officials with the N.C. Division of Water Resources are reminding people to avoid contact with an algal bloom that continues to develop in Fontana Lake.

The bloom has been observed near the Bryson City 288 boat ramp and Fontana Lake Dam but may be present in other areas.  

The filamentous bluegreen algae bloom was first observed last week in the Tuckasegee arm of the lake. Laboratory analysis of water samples identified the algae species as Aphanizomenon and Anabaena, which may produce toxins and pose a potential health risk. State water quality specialists will continue to monitor conditions at the lake.

North Carolina has had no reports of adverse health effects in people associated with this algal bloom.

While it is safe to boat or fish in the affected areas, state health officials routinely encourage the public to avoid contact with large accumulations of algae and prevent children and pets from swimming or ingesting water in an algal bloom.

State health and water quality officials suggest the following steps to safeguard pets and children from any potentially harmful algal bloom:

  • Keep children and pets away from water that appears bright green, discolored or scummy. Do not handle or touch large mats of algae.
  • Avoid handling, cooking or eating dead fish that may be present.
  • If you come into contact with an algal bloom, wash thoroughly.
  • Use clean water to thoroughly rinse off pets that may have come into contact with an algal bloom.
  • If your child appears ill after being in waters containing an algal bloom, seek medical care immediately.
  • If your pet appears to stumble, stagger or collapse after being in a pond, lake or river, seek veterinary care immediately.

To learn more about algae, visit the N.C. Division of Water Resources’ website at https://deq.nc.gov/about/divisions/water-resources/water-resources-data/water-sciences-home-page/ecosystems-branch/algal-blooms. For more information on the potential health effects from algal blooms, visit the N.C. Division of Public Health’s website at: http://epi.publichealth.nc.gov/oee/algae/protect.html.

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