Public Health DivisionHealth and Human Services Agency


Karen Relucio, MD
Public Health Officer
karen.relucio @countyofnapa.org
County Executive Office

1195 Third St
Napa, CA 94559

Public Health urges caution related to seasonal blue-green algae blooms

NAPA, CA –Napa County officials urge recreational water users to avoid close contact with bodies of water containing blue-green algae.   
A pond in the Huichica Creek Unit, located at the end of Milton Road in Napa, was linked to the death of two dogs that swam in the water within the last week.  Warning signs have been posted in the area. 
“Be aware of posted signs that indicate the presence of blue-green algae.  Also, if the body of water has a lot of algae or scum floating in it, it may be best for you and your pets to avoid the water.” said Dr. Karen Relucio, Napa County Public Health Officer. “These algae produce toxins that can cause eye irritation, skin rashes, mouth ulcers, vomiting, diarrhea, and flu-like symptoms.  ” 
Blue-green algae poisoning is most common in pets.  Symptoms, including death, can be more severe in pets because they tend to drink the water from affected lakes and reservoirs. Children and adults can experience serious injury to the liver, kidney and nervous system if affected water is swallowed. Medical treatment should be sought immediately if a person or pets is suspected to have blue-green algae poisoning. 
Blue-green algae are microscopic bacteria that can be found in freshwater lakes, rivers and streams. These algal blooms appear as blue-green, white or brown foam, scum or mats that typically float on the water’s surface and collect along shorelines and boat ramp areas. Blooms are caused by slow-moving warm water and high levels of nutrients in the water. They can move, grow or shrink depending on conditions.  
Common water purification techniques, including camping filters, tablets and boiling, do not remove toxins from affected water. 
The following guidance is recommended for people who recreate in water bodies: 
  • Take care that pets and livestock do not drink the water, swim through algae scums or mats, or lick their fur after going in the water.  Rinse pets in clean water to remove algae from fur.
  • Avoid wading, swimming, or jet or water skiing in water containing algae blooms, scums or mats.
  • Do not drink, cook or wash dishes with untreated surface water from these areas under any circumstances.
  • People should not eat shellfish or fish from these areas. If fish are consumed, remove the guts and liver, and rinse filets in clean drinking water.
  • Get medical treatment immediately if you think that you, your children, your pet or livestock might have been poisoned by blue-green algae toxins. Be sure to alert the medical professional to the possible contact with blue-green algae. 

The Board of Supervisors and staff of Napa County are dedicated to preserving and sustaining Napa County for present and future generations as a community with generous open space, a thriving agricultural industry and a quality human and natural environment.


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