Blue-Green Algae Bloom in St. Albans Bay Leads to Beach Closure

For Immediate Release: July 14, 2006
Contact: Bill Bress
State Toxicologist
802-863-7220

ST. ALBANS – A blue-green algae bloom spotted in St. Albans Bay led the Vermont Department of Health and the St. Albans Town Health Officer to close the town beach swimming area on Thursday.

The initial tests of the bloom by the University of Vermont Rubenstein Ecosystem Science Laboratory were positive for low levels of toxin. However, all test results are not completed.

St. Albans Bay Town Park was closed as of 1 p.m. Thursday. |“Health Alert: Keep Children and Pets Away from Algae” advisories have been posted at the boat access and beach in Georgia, Vt., and may also be posted at Cohen Park and Burton Island State Park if the bloom spreads either north or southwest.

“The algae is currently near the swimming or recreation areas, and boaters should be careful not to jump into - or to let their dog jump into – the blue-green scum spotted offshore,” said Bill Bress, state toxicologist for the Vermont Department of Health. “People should keep their eyes open for blooms anywhere in the bay and avoid them.”

Some kinds of blue-green algae produce dangerous toxins. Skin exposure can result in irritation or allergic reactions, and drinking algae that is producing toxins can result in nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. Children are considered to be at higher risk because they are more likely to drink the water.

No human cases of illness related to blue-green algae have been documented, but during the summers of 1999 and 2000 two dogs died after drinking large amounts of water from a toxic blue-green algae bloom in Lake Champlain.

Camp owners should be aware that common purification methods of water containing blue-green algae, such as boiling, ultraviolet light and chlorination, will not completely destroy the toxins.

St. Albans Parks and Recreation will continue to monitor the beaches for algae blooms. To report a blue-green algae bloom call 1-800-439-8550.

For more information on-line go to http://healthvermont.gov/enviro/bg_algae/bgalgae.aspx.

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