July 30, 2018 11:31 am
Updated: July 30, 2018 11:37 am

New Brunswickers reminded about potential health risk of blue-green algae

File image - New Brunswick's chief medical officer of health has advised the province about the potnetial health risks posed by blue-green algae.

Brion Robinson/Global News

New Brunswick’s chief medical officer of health is reminding New Brunswickers about the potential health risks of blue-green algae.

Dr. Jennifer Russell is asking that people be cautious in lakes and other bodies of water used for recreational purposes.

“We want all residents to be active and enjoy the outdoors, but we also want them to understand and consider the potential risks of exposure to these blooms,” Russell said.

READ MORE: Toronto Public Health warns of potential toxic algae found in Humber Bay East

Algae blooms can occur naturally in water systems, including lakes, rivers and wetlands.

The blooms can produce toxins that cause skin, eye and throat irritation, and in serious cases where the toxins are consumed, can cause gastrointestinal illness.

The province is issuing the following safety advice:

  • 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.
  • Do not use water from areas with blue-green algal blooms for drinking or cooking. Boiling the water will not remove toxins. Always obtain drinking water from a clean and safe source.
  • Fish caught from water where blooms are present should have all their organs removed and be rinsed well with clean drinking water before being cooked and eaten.
  • Even if no blooms are present, it is recommended you shower with clean water after being in recreational waters.

“Algal blooms can be unpredictable so it is important that people be cautious and check the water before entering,” Russell said.

“A blue-green algae bloom can appear as surface scum and/or discoloured water. If a blue-green algae bloom is suspected, do not swim, water-ski or engage in any other recreational activity that may involve contact with water in areas where a bloom is observed.”

WATCH: Officials suspect algae cause dog deaths at Fredericton park

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The warning comes less than a week after three dogs died as a result of what is suspected to be a blue-green algae bloom.

The dogs were swimming in the Saint John River when they came into contact with something that caused them to go into distress and die a short time later.

Officials are examining two popular recreational sites on the river to look for possible algal blooms

“We don’t yet know what killed the dogs, but we do suspect the possibility of blue-green algal toxicity and this is being investigated as one of our primary considerations,” New Brunswick’s provincial veterinarian, Jim Goltz, told The Canadian Press on Thursday.

“In the interim, we’re advising people not to let pets or children in water that has a green scum on it … and we’re also advising people to stay clear of the sites on the Saint John River where the deaths of the dogs occurred.”

With files from The Canadian Press 

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