The town of Quispamsis, N.B., has issued a public notice warning people of potential health risks from algae in Ritchie Lake after three dead raccoons were found earlier this week.
A media release circulated Thursday says the carcasses have been sent to Fredericton to be examined by the provincial veterinary lab and that the department of local government and environment will be testing water samples. It could be a couple weeks until results come back, but it’s suspected that cyanobacteria, or blue-green algae is to blame.
While not fatal to humans, public safety is cautioning people to stay away from any water sources where blooms might be present.
“Whenever you go to a body of water whether it be a lake, a river, anywhere, you want to do a visual survey to see if there is are blooms. If there are blooms evident you want to avoid that water instead of going swimming or doing any activity that could have you ingesting that water,” said Shaun Crawley, acting director for New Brunswick health protection services.
Dogs are at the greatest risk from blue green algae blooms, but it can also cause skin irritation or gastrointestinal illness if consumed by humans. A dog died earlier this summer near Fredericton due to blue-green algae in the St. John River.
Crawley says he’s unsure if blooms are becoming more prevalent, but that incidents like the one above are causing more people to report areas that could be affected.
“We do seem to get a lot more calls from the public, just general inquiries about blue-green algae, people seeing various algae in the water and various water bodies and they call in to say that they’ve seen blue green algae,” he said.
The province recommends the following precautions be taken when swimming anywhere during the summer:
- Do not swallow lake or river water when swimming, and always supervise young children and pets in recreational waters.
- Bathe or shower immediately after swimming.
- Do not enter the water with open cuts or sores.
- Even if no algae are present, it is recommended you shower with clean water after being in recreational waters.
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