Health officials: Algae bloom along Lake Erie shoreline dangerous to pets, kids
Health officials are warning visitors to Lake Erie that algae blooms in the waters along the shoreline are a danger to pets and young children.
Algae in the water “exceeds dog safety thresholds” at eight swimming areas, according to the Erie County Department of Health.
The algae blooms can produce extremely dangerous toxins that can cause illness, irritation and even death in pets, livestock and humans.
Health officials said pets and kids are most susceptible to getting sick from the algae because they have a lower body mass than adults. Pets and children also are more likely than adults to ingest the water, according to a spokeswoman for the agency.
The variety of blue-green algae in the lake is known as cyanobacteria, microscopic organisms found naturally in surface water that can sometimes multiply into harmful algal blooms, according to health officials.
Humans who come into contact with the algae can experience rashes, blisters, hives and eye and nose irritations. If swallowed, the organisms can cause diarrhea, vomiting, abdominal pain, numbness in the lips, tingling in fingers and toes, dizziness and headache.
Animals affected by the organisms exhibit behavior such as staggering, difficulty breathing, convulsions, salivation, weakness and vomiting.
Signs are posted at the beaches, where the water is regularly tested, to warn visitors about the dangers posed by swimming in the algae-laden lake.
The affected beaches inside Presque Isle State Park are:
• Beach 1 West Extension
• Beach 6
• Niagara Boat Launch
• Ferry Slip
• Perry Monument
• Boater’s Beach
Two swimming areas outside the park — Shades Beach and Avonia Beach — also are experiencing high levels of algae.
High amounts of the algae also can create “dead zones” in the water and and make it difficult to sanitize for drinking, according to the health department.
The harmful blooms are created by a combination of sunlight, slow-moving water and the presence of nutrients such as nitrogen and phosphorus.
Tony LaRussa is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Tony at 724-772-6368, [email protected] or via Twitter .