Blue-Green Algae

High concentrations of blue-green algae are sometimes detected in Polk County lakes. When this occurs, the Polk County Health Department issues a health advisory regarding recreational use of the lake. Blue-green algae is a toxin producing photosynthetic bacteria. Potential health concerns to humans and pets include skin rashes, gastrointestinal disturbances, headaches, irritation of mucous membranes, liver damage, kidney damage, seizures, paralysis, respiratory failure, and in some cases death.

To avoid health risk, you and your pet should avoid swimming in water that looks like "pea soup", green or blue paint, or has a scum layer of puffy blobs floating on the surface. Do not let pets drink water from these areas. Do not let children play with the slimy water even if on shore. Always take a shower or bath after coming in contact with surface water and avoid hand to mouth contact.

It is also important to NOT try to kill the blue-green algae with any herbicide or algaecide such as copper sulfate. The dangerous toxins will be released into the water when the algae dies. A large scale die-off would produce extremely high levels of toxin.

To help reduce future blue-green algae blooms you should maintain native vegetation along shorelines as buffer areas, minimize activities that result in erosion, and reduce the amount of fertilizer on lawns.

Links for more Information on Blue-Green Algae

Wisconsin Blue-Green Algae Information