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NAPA – As the weather heats up, Napa County officials urge recreational water users to avoid close contact with bodies of water containing blue-green algae.
“While there are currently no reports of algal blooms, we want to make sure people are keeping an eye out to protect their loved ones,” 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 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.
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.
The following guidance is recommended for people who recreate in water bodies:
To report a bloom or an animal or human illness related to a bloom, contact the California State Water Resources Control Board at 916-341-5357 or email CyanoHAB.Reports@waterboards.ca.gov.
For health-related questions, call Napa County Public Health at 707-253-4270. For assistance with reporting waters that may be affected by a harmful algal bloom, call Napa County Environmental Health at 707-253-4417.