A health warning has been issued for Tuttle Creek River Pond area in Riley and Pottawatomie counties due to the presence of a harmful algae bloom on August 26, 2011. Cyanobacteria (also known as blue-green algae) can produce toxins that can cause illness in humans and animals. The greatest risk of adverse human health effects after exposure to these toxins is through accidental ingestion and inhalation of the affected water during recreational activities such as swimming and skiing. Potential health effects can vary and are dependent upon the type of toxin and route of exposure. Contact with high concentrations of cyanobacteria, independent of the level of toxins, may also cause adverse health effects. Direct contact with the water, such as wading or swimming, can cause a skin rash, as well as eye, ear and throat irritation. Ingestion or inhaling aerosols (such as from jet skiing or boating) of contaminated water can cause diarrhea, vomiting, abdominal cramps, fever, fatigue and flu like symptoms. Animals, especially dogs, can become ill or even die as a result of coming into contact with, or ingesting, the water.
If you have a patient presenting with any of the above mentioned clinical symptoms, can confirm an exposure history to a body of water within a reasonable time period prior to symptoms, and have ruled out any other diagnoses, please consider this a suspect case and complete the algae illness reporting form located at http://www.kdheks.gov/algae-illness/index.htm or contact the Kansas Department of Health and Environment’s (KDHE) Bureau of Epidemiology and Public Health Informatics at 1-877-427-7317.
For questions regarding sampling of lakes and cyanobacteria, contact KDHE’s Bureau of Environmental Health at 785-296-5606.
For questions regarding health effects of cyanobacteria on pets and animals, contact the Kansas Animal Health Department at 785-296-2326.