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HEALTH Advises No Contact With Untreated Water from Watson Reservoir Affected by Blue-Green Algae

PROVIDENCE - The Rhode Island Department of Health (HEALTH) advises individuals to avoid contact with untreated waters affected by blue-green algae blooms. For the second time this season, Watson Reservoir in Little Compton has experienced algal blooms which may form naturally occurring algal toxins. Treated tap water originating from the reservoirs is safe to touch and consume.

Existing restrictions prohibit recreational activities such as swimming, boating, or fishing. People should not eat fish from the reservoir.

Pets can also be affected by exposure to the algal toxins and should not be allowed to drink this water or swim in it.

These blue-green algae species, typically referred to as cyanobacteria, have the potential to form the naturally occurring algal toxins known as Microcystin and Anatoxin. Although no toxins have been found at this time, it is important that the public avoid contact with untreated waters.

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. People who have had contact with the untreated waters in these areas and experience any adverse health symptoms should contact their healthcare provider.

Algae blooms and the natural production of toxins typically resolve itself in a few weeks. Water will continue to be sampled and monitored. Individuals should avoid contact with untreated waters until further notice.

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