CHEYENNE – Several State of Wyoming agencies are advising the public to avoid and keep animals away from cyanobacterial blooms in Wyoming’s lakes and reservoirs and to report suspected blooms.
The Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ), the Wyoming Department of Health (WDH) and the Wyoming Livestock Board (WLB) issued the advisory. Suspected blooms should be reported to the DEQ by calling 307-777-7501 or submitting a complaint online at WyoSpills.org.
Cyanobacteria, also known as blue-green algae, can form blooms called HCBs, also referred to as harmful algal blooms or HABs, that produce toxins and other irritants that pose a risk to human, pet and livestock health. HCBs typically occur during late summer to early fall in still or slow-moving water and may last days, weeks or months. HCBs are generally blue or green in color and may appear as grass clippings, scum, floating mats or spilled paint, according to a press release.
In September of 2018, advisories were issued for two areas at Flaming Gorge Reservoir as well as for the Big Sandy and Eden reservoirs due to higher than normal levels of cyanobacteria.
Once reported, DEQ will investigate potential blooms to determine if they are harmful. The Wyoming Department of Health will issue advisories for publicly accessible waters with harmful levels of cyanobacteria and/or toxins. A list and map of advisories can be found at: WyoHCBs.org.
If a harmful bloom is present, the WDH and WLB recommend the following:
• Avoid contact with water in the vicinity of the algae bloom, especially in areas where blue-green algae are dense and form scums.
• Do not drink or consume the water. Boiling, filtration and/or chlorination will not remove toxins and will not make the water safe for drinking.
• Caution should be taken when eating fish as health effects remain unknown. Rinse fish with clean water and eat only the fillet portion.
• Do not breathe water spray in areas of the bloom.
• Keep pets and livestock away from the water. Do not allow animals to drink the water, eat dried algae, or groom themselves after contact with the water.
• If people, pets, and livestock come into contact with a bloom, rinse off with clean water as soon as possible.
Seek medical attention or a veterinarian if a person or animal is experiencing adverse health effects after exposure to an algal bloom. For more information, visit the DEQ’s HCB webpage at WyoHCBs.org.
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