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Blue-Green Algae Blooms in Cunliff Lake, Elm Lake and the Japanese Gardens in Roger Williams Park

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) and the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (RIDEM) are advising people to avoid contact with Cunliff Lake, Elm Lake, and the Japanese Gardens, all in Roger Williams Park in Providence, due to blue-green algae (or cyanobacteria) blooms in those bodies of water.

Blue-green algae can produce toxins that can harm humans and animals. People should not ingest untreated water or eat fish from these bodies of water. Because pets can be affected by exposure to algal toxins, owners should not allow pets to drink this water or swim in the water. This advisory will remain in effect until further notice.

Contact with water containing cyanobacteria can cause irritation of the skin, nose, eyes, and/or throat. If water containing algal toxins is ingested, health effects can include stomach ache, diarrhea, vomiting, and nausea. Young children and pets are at greater risk than adults, due to their size and because 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 have otherwise been in contact with, these ponds who experience symptoms should contact their healthcare providers.

Anyone who comes into contact with water from these ponds should rinse their skin with clean water as soon as possible, bathe, and wash their clothes. If a pet comes in contact with this water, the pet should be washed with clean water. Do not let the animal lick algae off of its fur. Call a veterinarian if the pet shows any symptoms of blue-green algae poisoning, which include loss of energy, loss of appetite, vomiting, diarrhea, or any unexplained sickness that occurs within a few days of contact with the water.

It is possible that blue-green algae blooms may be affecting other waterbodies in Rhode Island. The public should avoid contact with any body of water in Rhode Island that is bright green or has a dense, floating algal mat on the water's surface. Blue-green algae blooms may look like green paint or thick pea soup. Toxins may persist in the water after a blue-green algae bloom is no longer visible.

To report suspected blue-green algae blooms, contact RIDEM's Office of Water Resources at 222-4700 or DEM.OWRCyano@dem.ri.gov.

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