Alberta issues warning over toxic algae bloom

A blue-green algae bloom on Lac Ste. Anne has sparked a warning from Health Link Alberta.
Bue-green algae contains a toxin that can make people and pets ill.

A blue-green algae bloom on Lac Ste. Anne, northwest of Edmonton has sparked a warning from Health Link Alberta.

The bacteria produce a toxin that can cause serious illness to animals or humans who drink or have skin contact with water containing the toxin. Although weather and wind conditions can cause algae blooms to move from one location in the lake to another, HLA warned, the toxin can remain in the water even after algae have moved or disappeared.

HLA is advising residents and visitors to take the following precautions:

  • Do not drink water from the lake, and that includes pets. Boiling contaminated water does not remove the toxins.
  • Do not swim or wade in the lake, and be sure to keep pets away as well.
  • Avoid contact with algae along the shoreline.
  • Limit consumption of fish caught from the lake.

The advisory will remain in effect until further notice, HLA said.

Symptoms include skin irritation, rash, sore throat, sore red eyes, swollen lips, fever, nausea and vomiting and/or diarrhea, the agency said. The symptoms usually appear within one to three hours and resolve in one to two days. People who consume contaminated water as a primary source for drinking water can develop more serious illnesses, including liver damage, over time.

Symptoms in children are often more pronounced because they spend more time in the water and are more likely to accidentally ingest contaminated water, HLA said.

Blue-green algae has been a problem across the country this summer, with blooms reported in several provinces including New Brunswick, Ontario and Manitoba. Earlier this month, warnings were issued for three lakes near Calgary.

Anyone who suspects a problem related to blue-green algae or requires further information is urged to call Health Link Alberta at 1-866-408-LINK (5465).