Indiana Department of Natural Resources has issued an advisory alerting people using Mississinewa and Salomonie Lakes of high blue-green algae levels.

After testing completed this week at Salamonie and Missisinewa, these state lakes were added to the list of state reservoirs experiencing what scientists call an algae bloom. This is a typical occurance in the summer, according to IN DNR information. IDEM began blue-green algae sampling the week of May 26 and will end the week of August 29. IDEM samples for blue-green algae and analyzes those samples for the type and quantity of blue-green algae present and for the presence of toxins which may be produced by certain types of blue-green algae.

Algae are commonly found in Indiana lakes and streams without concern, however the concentrated presence of blue-green algae can be linked to some adverse health effects, according to the state information sheet in reference to cyanobacteria growth. Factors promoting algal growth include sunlight, warm weather, low turbulence, and nutrient sources, such as phosphorus and nitrogen..

Blue-green algae are capable of producing several different toxins. People may be exposed to these toxins through contact with the skin when swimming, inhalation when motor boating or water skiing or by swallowing contaminated water. Rashes, skin or eye irritation, and other uncomfortable effects such as nausea, stomach aches and tingling in fingers and toes may occur.

State officials recommend avoiding direct contact with the algae or swallowing lake water. Keep a close eye on pets or small children, who may ingest water containing toxins produced by these algae.

Exposure to blue-green algae during swimming, wading, and water-skiing can lead to rashes, skin, eye irritation, and effects such as nausea, stomach aches, and tingling in fingers and toes. After you swim, wade or ski, be sure to shower with warm soapy water.

Animals are not necessarily more sensitive to blue-green algal toxins than humans. However, many animals enjoy being in the water. Animals may consume large quantities of algae if they drink the water. If blue-green algae happen to be producing toxin(s), the animals could become very ill. Symptoms may range from lethargy and loss of appetite to seizures, vomiting, and convulsions. Consumption of large quantities of the toxins could potentially cause death. Dogs are particularly susceptible because “scum” can attach to their coats and be swallowed during self-cleaning.

In an interview during last year’s algae bloom, Mississinewa Assistant Property Manager Alec Snelson said nutrients which cause the algae to grow so profusely enter the lake from the rivers and watershed that feed the reservoir.

“All the running water through tributaries and streams brought in nutrients for the algae to feed on and grow,” Snelson said.

The algae, which can range in color and appearance is most prevalent along the shorelines of the lake.

People walking their dogs or enjoying the lake are advised to avoid to take precautions. Dogs should not be allowed in areas where it’s visible, whether that’s on land or in the water, because ingesting the toxic growth could prove harmful for pets.

“For humans, I don’t think there’s been any recorded illnesses from the blue-green algae in the United States,” said Snelson. “They said it could potentially give you a rash. It’s more toxic to dogs. There have been cases where it’s been fatal to dogs. They get in the water and lick if off and it can harm them. Since we have dogs here we don’t want that to happen.”

The campground’s staff advises people that if their pet does come into contact with the algae, the animal should be rinsed with clean water and soap and the animal should not be allowed to lick the water off. For people who come touch the algae, they should rinse their hands and any other skin exposed to the material. 

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