Interior Health issues advisory after ‘potentially harmful’ algal bloom discovered on Wood Lake

Click to play video: 'Large algae bloom detected in Shuswap Lake' Large algae bloom detected in Shuswap Lake
While algae blooms are commonly found in Interior lakes at this time of year, a massive one in the Shuswap region has prompted health officials to issue a public service announcement. – Aug 12, 2020

A potentially harmful algal bloom in a B.C. Southern Interior lake is being monitored by health officials.

Interior Health said the bloom was discovered on Lake Country’s Wood Lake.

Read more: Large algal bloom in Shuswap Lake being monitored, says Interior Health

While most algal blooms are harmless, some species have the potential to produce toxins that can be harmful to people, the health authority said.

Residents and visitors to Wood Lake are advised to avoid direct contact with the bloom, not consume drinking water directly from the lake and not swim or wade into areas where the bloom is visible.

Algal blooms are naturally occurring throughout B.C. and may be blue, green, brown, yellow, orange or red in colour and appear like foam, scum, mats on the surface or soup.

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The algae bloom as seen on Wednesday, April 21, on the west side of Wood Lake at one of the parking pullouts on Pelmewash Parkway. District of Lake Country/Submitted

Some algal blooms may also smell unpleasant, health officials said. Algal blooms containing cyanobacteria may produce harmful toxins.

Read more: Alberta family sends out water warning after pet dies from suspected blue-green algae exposure

“Consuming or coming into contact with water contaminated with cyanotoxins can cause a range of symptoms including: headaches, nausea, fever, sore throat, dizziness, stomach cramps, diarrhea, abdominal pain, vomiting, muscle aches, mouth ulcers, blistering of the lips, skin rashes and irritation of the ears and eyes,” Interior Health said.

Satellite imagery provided by Larratt Aquatic Consulting. The algae changes quite rapidly as you can see from the satellite photos between April 14-19. Submitted

“It is important that you rinse your body with clean water immediately after exposure to contaminated water. Rinsing is recommended even without symptoms.”

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In August, a similar large algal bloom was discovered on the Salmon Arm end of Shuswap Lake.

For more information on blue-green algae, visit the HealthLinkBC website.

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