NEWPORT, R.I. (WPRI) — With summer around the corner, the Rhode Island Department of Health and the Department of Environmental Management issued a warning about the dangers of blue-green algae in local rivers and ponds.
Officials said blooms are already emerging in certain bodies of water, such as Almy Pond in Newport. It’s recommended to avoid contact with that pond and not eat any seafood taken from it.
Touching blue-green algae may cause irritation to the skin, nose, eyes, and throat. Swallowing water or eating seafood containing the algae can also cause a stomachache, diarrhea, vomiting, and nausea.
Rarer health effects include dizziness, headache, fever, liver damage, and nervous system damage.
But what happens if you, your kids, or your pets come into contact with an affected pond without knowing it? Here’s what you should know:
What do algae blooms look like?
Officials say affected bodies of water may be bright to dark green. On the surface, the water may have a green “film” or look like “green paint, thick pea soup, or green cottage cheese.” In these conditions, it’s best to not touch or go into the water.
For a full list of current affected rivers and ponds, visit the DEM’s blue-green algae page.
What to do
If you suspect you’ve touched a harmful algae bloom, rinse your skin with clean water as soon as possible, then take a shower and rinse your clothes as soon as you get home.
If you spot an algae bloom, you’re asked to contact the DEM’s Office of Water Resources at (401) 222-4700 or DEM.OWRCyano@dem.ri.gov. Officials ask that you include a photo of the algae.
Protecting your pets
If your pet has been in a body of water near algal blooms, wash them with clean water as soon as possible and try to prevent them from licking their fur.
Call your veterinarian if your pets show any of these algae-poisoning symptoms:
- Loss of energy
- Loss of appetite
- General sickness within 24 hours
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