“While there are currently no reports of [harmful] algal blooms, we want to make sure people are keeping an eye out to protect their loved ones”
-Dr. Karen Relucio, Napa County Public Health Officer.
Algae are tiny, harmless organisms that live naturally in water. A harmful algae bloom (HAB) is actually made of cyanobacteria, sometimes called blue-green algae. Some cyanobacteria species create toxins that can make people and pets sick.
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 pet is suspected to have blue-green algae poisoning.
Common recreational water purification techniques, including camping filters, tablets, and boiling, do not remove toxins from affected water.
Know the signs of an algae bloom. Don’t go in water that is foamy, scummy, thick like paint, pea-green, blue-green or brownish red.
Napa County Environmental Health, in coordination with Public Health, launched a public education campaign on seasonal algal blooms in the Spring. They have provided posters [English HABs poster (PDF) Opens a New Window. / Spanish HABs poster (PDF) Opens a New Window. ] to various agencies to post up and down the valley.
Additionally, as part of the campaign, Public Health reached out to the veterinary community and Environmental Health provided brochures [English HABs brochure (PDF) Opens a New Window. / Spanish HABs brochure (PDF) Opens a New Window. ] as a handout to the Animal Shelter. The HABs brochure was also provided to Napa County Regional Park and Open Space District, to offer whenever they set up booths.
Find more information about Harmful Algae Blooms (HABs) at this HABs Frequently Asked Questions page from the California State Water Resources Control Board.