October 22nd, 2017

Blue-green algae advisory issued for Bullshead Reservoir


By Gillian Slade on October 6, 2017.

Medicine Hat News

A blue-green algae (cyanobacteria) advisory has been issued for Bullshead Reservoir by Alberta Health Services.

Anyone near the shores of Bullshead Reservoir in Cypress County is advised to take the following precautions:

Avoid all contact with blue-green algae (cyanobacteria) blooms and if contact occurs, wash with tap water as soon as possible, says an AHS press release. Do not swim or wade, or allow pets to swim or wade, in any areas where blue-green algae is visible. Do not feed whole fish or fish trimmings from this reservoir to your pets.

AHS also advises you to consider limiting human consumption of whole fish and fish trimmings from this reservoir, as it is known that fish may store toxins in their liver. You can safely consume fish fillets from this reservoir though, says AHS.

Never drink or cook with untreated water directly from any recreational body of water, including Bullshead Reservoir, at any time, AHS stated in a press release. Boiling of the 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.

Cyanobacteria/blue-green algae is naturally occurring, and often becomes visible when weather conditions are calm. It can look like scum, grass clippings, fuzz or globs on the surface of water. It can be blue-green, greenish-brown, brown and/or pinkish-red, and often smells musty or grassy, said the press release.

If you come in contact with visible blue-green algae, or ingest contaminated water you may experience skin irritation including a rash, sore throat, sore red eyes, swollen lips, fever, nausea and vomiting and/or diarrhea. Symptoms start within one to three hours and resolve in one to two days.

Weather and wind conditions can cause algae blooms to move from one location in the reservoir to another. This advisory will remain in effect until further notice.

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

If you require further information on health concerns and blue-green algae (cyanobacteria), please call Health Link at 811.


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