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Blue-Green Algae Bloom Found in J.L. Curran Reservoir

The Department of Health (HEALTH) and the Department of Environmental Management (DEM) are advising people to avoid recreational activities in J.L. Curran Reservoir in Cranston because a blue-green algae (or cyanobacteria) bloom has been detected in the waters of the reservoir.

Following a report received by DEM over the weekend, a water sample was collected in J.L. Curran Reservoir that confirmed the presence of blue-green algae in the water body and toxin levels that exceed HEALTH and DEM recreational advisory criteria. The water sample was collected at the state boat ramp on the western side of the reservoir off Seven Mile Road. The entire surface of the reservoir shows evidence of this bloom. People should avoid recreational activities (like swimming, boating, or fishing) in J.L. Curran Reservoir until further notice and be careful not to ingest water or eat fish from the reservoir. Pets can also be affected by exposure to the algal toxins and thus owners should not allow pets to drink this water or swim in the water. It is likely that the recreational advisory will remain in effect through the end of the year.

The toxins can cause harm to humans and animals. Skin rashes, and irritation of the nose, eyes, and or throat are common side effects that result from skin contact with water containing algal toxins. If water containing algal toxins is ingested, health effects include stomach ache, diarrhea, vomiting, and nausea. Young children and pets are more at-risk to algal toxins than adults, since they are more likely to drink contaminated water. Other health effects, which are rarer, include dizziness, headache, fever, liver damage, and nervous system damage. People who have been swimming in or otherwise in contact with J.L. Curran Reservoir waters and experience those symptoms should contact their healthcare provider.

If you come into contact with the water, rinse your skin with clean water as soon as possible, and when you get home, take a shower and wash your clothes. Similarly, if your pet comes in contact with the water, immediately wash it off with clean water. Do not let the animal lick algae off of its fur. Call a veterinarian if your animal shows any of the symptoms of blue-green algae poisoning, which include loss of energy, loss of appetite, vomiting, diarrhea, or any unexplained sickness that occurs within a day or so after being in contact with water. People are cautioned that toxins may persist in the water after the blue-green algae bloom is no longer visible.

It is possible that blue-green algae blooms may be affecting other areas of Rhode Island. People are advised to avoid contact with waters which exhibit the following conditions: bright green coloration in the water or at the water surface and/or dense floating algal mats that form on the water's surface. The water may look like green paint, thick pea soup, or green cottage cheese. To report suspected blue-green algae blooms, contact Brian Zalewsky in DEM's Office of Water Resources at 222-4700 ext. 7145 or by e-mail at brian.zalewsky@dem.ri.gov and if possible, send a photograph of the reported algae bloom.

Related links

Department or agency: Department of Health

Online: http://www.health.ri.gov

Release date: 08-27-2014

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