Blue-green algae is naturally occurring, and often becomes visible when weather conditions are calm. Black Press Media file photo

Blue-green algae is naturally occurring, and often becomes visible when weather conditions are calm. Black Press Media file photo

Blue-green algae prompts Pigeon Lake health warning

Areas of lake not hit by blue-green algae remain safe for swimmers

Blue-green algae has been spotted in Pigeon Lake and residents and visitors are warned to steer clear of blooms.

Alberta Health Services said people who come in contact with the algae should wash with tap water as soon as possible.

People and their pets should not wade or swim in any areas where the algae can be seen.

Pet owners are also warned not to feed whole fish or fish trimmings from the lake to their pets.

AHS also urges people to consider limiting their consumption of whole fish and fish trimmings from the lake, because fish may store toxins in their liver. People can safely consume fish fillets from this lake.

Visitors and residents are reminded to never drink or cook with untreated water directly from any recreational body of water, including Pigeon Lake. Boiling water will not remove the toxins produced by blue-green algae.

“An alternate source of drinking water should also be provided for pets and livestock, while this advisory is active,” says AHS.

Blue-green algae is naturally occurring, and often becomes visible when weather conditions are calm.

Appearing like scum, grass clippings, fuzz, or globs on the surface of the water, the algae can be blue-green, greenish-brown, brown and/or pinkish-red. It oftens smell musty or grassy.

People who come in contact with visible blue-green algae, or who ingest water containing blue-green algae, may experience skin irritation, rash, sore throat, sore red eyes, swollen lips, fever, nausea and vomiting and/or diarrhea.

Symptoms usually appear within one to three hours and resolve in one to two days. Symptoms in children are often more pronounced; however, all humans are at risk of these symptoms.

Exposure to the bacteria may be fatal to pets.

Weather and wind conditions can cause algae blooms to move from one location in the lake to another. As a result, the advisory will remain in effect for Pigeon Lake until further notice.

Areas of Pigeon Lake in which the blue-green algae bloom is not visible can still be used for recreational purposes, even while the health advisory is in place.