WINONA LAKE – Researchers at the Lilly Center for Lakes & Streams are actively monitoring Blue-green algae in Kosciusko County amid reports outside of Indiana in which dogs have died after coming in contact with the algae.
Blue-green algae, also called “cyanobacteria,” grow well in warm water. As a result, shallow areas of lakes, where dogs and humans often swim, can become hot spots. Blue-green algae often appears as an oily green “paint” or frothy scum on the surface of a lake.
Anyone who notices a bloom is encouraged to call the Indiana State Department of Health at (317) 233-7047 and keep people and pets out of the water.
The Indiana Department of Environmental Management issued a recreational advisory for the following areas, which showed high levels of blue-green algae:
- Brookville Lake
- Brookville Lake
- Cecil M Harden Lake
- Hardy Lake
- Kunkel Lake
- Monroe Lake
- Monroe Lake
- Whitewater Lake – Whitewater Memorial State Park
- Worster Lake – Potato Creek State Park
Microcystin, a common toxin produced by blue-green algae, is known to cause harm.
“There isn’t a clear correlation between the amount of algae found on a lake and the amount of toxin produced,” said Dr. Nate Bosch, director of the Lilly Center. “But if you can see a bloom, it’s a good idea to stay away from it.” Blue-green algae should not be confused with duckweed on the surface or other plants growing up from the bottom of the lake, which are harmless.
When microcystin comes into contact with skin, it can cause an allergic reaction. “If it’s swallowed, or if it gets in eyes, it can do more harm than that,” said Adrienne Funderburg, research program specialist at the Lilly Center. “Microcystin is known to cause sickness or organ damage in humans; for pets, ingesting high quantities can be lethal.”
The Lilly Center has been studying blue-green algae since 2009, and has its own algae toxin research lab at Grace College in Winona Lake, as well as experts focused on the topic. For more information, visit lakes.grace.edu/research, email [email protected] or call (574) 372-5100 ext. 6454.
Identifying Blue-Green Algae
• Poor correlation between algae biomass and toxin production, but a visual bloom is still a good sign that one should stay out of the water.
• Blue-green algae should not be confused with duckweed on the water surface or other plants growing up from the lake bottom, which are safe.
• Individual blue-green algae cells are extremely small but may form larger colonies that are easily visible as clumps within the water appearing as oily green paint or on the surface as a frothy scum.
Blue-Green Algae Toxins
• Blue-green algae, also called “cyanobacteria,” grow well in warm water, which means shallow areas of lakes (where dogs and humans often swim) can be hot spots.
• Blue-green algae can produce different kinds of toxins. Contact with skin, eyes and mouth are all ways a person or pet can be exposed to the toxins.
• Microcystin, a toxin produced by blue-green algae, is known to be deadly to animals if internalized in high quantities. Humans can experience an allergic reaction, sickness or organ damage.