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Saskatchewan, Alberta health agencies caution over blue-green algae

Summer heat can cause harmful blue-green algae to appear in lakes and reservoirs. The Water Security Agency, the Saskatchewan Ministry of Health and Alberta Health Services are advising to avoid direct contact, intended or unintended consumption of any surface water where blue-green algae blooms are occurring.

In Alberta, the AHS has reports on Laurier Lake in the Whitney Lakes Provincial Park, Lac La Biche Lake as well as Wizard Lake and others.

Pet owners and livestock producers are also advised to keep their animals away from suspected blooms.

The blooms may be blue-green, bright blue, grey or tan in colour. These often give the water a shimmering, foamy and pea soup like appearance.

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Direct contact or unintended consumption of algae-contaminated water can cause red skin, sore throat, cramps, nausea, vomiting and 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. If you have any concerns, consult with your health care provider.

Health officials advise caution if someone is considering whether to consume fish or shellfish caught in waters where a bloom exists; the internal organs of the fish should not be eaten.

For health-related questions about blue-green algae contact the SHA public health officers. In Alberta, call Health Link at 811.

Information on Saskatchewan Healthy Beaches can be found online.

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