State reminds public to avoid algal blooms in Chowan River area

RALEIGH

State officials are reminding the public to avoid contact with green water in the Chowan River, as algal blooms linger from Edenton Bay to the upstream town of Colerain.

Specialists with the state environmental agency have been monitoring blooms in the area since June. Recent increased rainfall from Tropical Storm Hermine and expected hot temperatures this weekend may increase the blooms. The algae have been identified as Microcystis and Anabaena. They are among the family of blue-green algae that have the potential to produce cyanotoxins. These blooms are commonly referred to as potentially harmful algal blooms and may cause illness in humans or pets.

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 the algae and prevent children and pets from swimming or ingesting water in an algal bloom.

State water quality and health officials reiterate 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. Also, use clean water to 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.

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. To learn more about algae, visit the state environmental agency’s website at https://deq.nc.gov/about/divisions/water-resources/water-resources-data/water-sciences-home-page/ecosystems-branch/algal-blooms.

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