Health Alert: Beware While Swimming In Oakland County Lakes

WHITE LAKE (WWJ) – Officials in Oakland County have put out a warming to residents and visitors about a danger lurking in some local lakes.

The Oakland County Health Division says harmful algae blooms are a problem, due to recent weather conditions.

People and pets should avoid direct contact with water that appears scummy, looks like spilled paint or has a green sheen to it. The scum may contain flecks, foam or clumps.

The issue was identified by officials with the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) in White Lake Township’s Sugden Lake and Pontiac Lake located in Waterford and White Lake townships. Caution signs will be posted.

While some blooms are harmless, organisms containing a toxin known as HAB can produce conditions harmful to humans, pets and aquatic life.

“If you see algae, avoid direct contact with it and keep pets away as well,” said Leigh-Anne Stafford, health officer for Oakland County Health Division. “Although algae are a natural presence in waterways, special precautions need to be followed to prevent illness.”

People are urged to take the following actions if a HAB is present:

• Do not drink untreated surface water, whether or not blooms are present. Remember, boiling
the water will not remove the toxins.
• Obey posted signs for public health advisories and/or beach closings.
• Do not allow children or pets to play in or drink water where algae or scum is present.
• Do not boat at high speeds, water-ski, or swim in areas of the lake where algal blooms are
present. Avoid direct contact with the lake water or sprinklers.
• Do not water lawns, gardens, or golf courses with water from HAB-impacted lakes or ponds
because it aerosolizes the water.
• Report unpleasant tastes or smells in your drinking water to the local water utility.
• Individual property owners should not use algaecides to kill HABs because of the risk of
releasing toxins directly into the water. Treatment requires a permit from the MDEQ.
• Do not have direct contact with mussels or other bivalves (zebra mussels) from impacted
areas.
• Limit or avoid eating fish from impacted areas. If fish are consumed, eat only the filets – remove
guts and liver and rinse filets in clean drinking water. Always follow the Eat Safe Fish
waterbody-specific guidelines or Statewide Safe Fish Guidelines, even if a waterbody does not
look impacted, available at www.michigan.gov/eatsafefish.
People and pets can experience the following symptoms after contact with a HAB:
• Skin contact may cause: Rashes, hives, or skin blisters (especially on the lips and under swimsuits).
• Breathing aerosolized (suspended water droplets) lake water mist from recreational activities
and/or lawn watering can cause: Runny eyes and noses, Sore throat, Asthma-like symptoms, Allergic reactions
• Swallowing HAB contaminated water can cause: Severe diarrhea/vomiting and abdominal pain, Abnormal liver function,
Kidney toxicity, Weakness, salivation, tingly fingers, numbness, dizziness, difficulties breathing, or death

If you think you have been exposed to a HAB, take the following precautions:

• Remove people from the exposure and seek medical treatment if symptoms occur.
• Thoroughly rinse off pets with clean, fresh water if they swam in an area with a HAB. If they
lick their fur after leaving the water, they may ingest large amounts of the toxin.
• Seek veterinary treatment as soon as possible if you think your pet might have been poisoned
by toxic HAB.

For more information, visit oakgov.com/health.

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