For Immediate Release: July 17, 2009
Media Contact: Communication Office
Vermont Department of Health
BURLINGTON – Elevated levels of toxins detected in a blue-green algae bloom on the eastern shores of the Missisquoi Bay has prompted the Vermont Department of Health to advise boaters, swimmers and residents to take the following precautions:
- Avoid contact with algae-contaminated water.
- Do not swim or bathe in the water. Remember that children are considered to be at higher risk because they are more likely to drink the water.
- Monitor water intakes for private residences. If you see algae present near the intake, switch to an alternate safe source of water.
- Do not use algae contaminated water to prepare meals or brush teeth. Boiling water will not remove toxins.
- Do not allow pets in algae-contaminated water.
Algae has also been observed in Shelburne Bay, and traces of the scum were also seen along the shoreline at Red Rocks Park in Burlington.
Exposing skin to some kinds of blue-green algae can result in irritation or allergic reactions, and drinking water containing algae that is producing toxins can cause nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. Anyone who has symptoms is advised to seek medical attention.
Swimming is not the only danger of exposure. People can also inhale or swallow blue-green algae when water skiing or using a jet ski.
No human cases of illness related to blue-green algae have been documented in Vermont since the Health Department and partner agencies including the University of Vermont Rubenstein School of Environment and Natural Resources started a comprehensive surveillance and monitoring system in 1999.
Blooms can be reported by calling the Health Department at 1-800-439-8550 (VT only). Homeowner toxin test kits can be purchased from the Health Department Laboratory at 1-800-660-9997 (VT only).
The Health Department posts an online status map of algae blooms in Lake Champlain, including facts and photographs. The map is posted at: http://healthvermont.gov/enviro/bg_algae/bgalgae.aspx