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Lots of heat, little rain fuel early algae blooms on lakes

County health officials are now warning people to be cautious because of the health and safety risks.
Updated: Jun. 11, 2021 at 4:50 PM CDT
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LAKE WINNEBAGO, Wis. (WBAY) - Blue-green algae have been spotted on Lake Winnebago earlier than usual thanks to a week of heat.

The toxic bacteria thrive on constant sunshine, high temperatures and a lack of rain. County health officials are now warning people to be cautious because of the health and safety risks.

“The heat that we’ve had, and then the constant sunlight, everyone loves it, but it kind of feeds the algae in the water,” Morgan Peterson, Environmental Health Specialist with the Winnebago County Health Department, said.

Ingestion of the algae can cause rashes, nausea, vomiting and, in severe cases with canines, death.

Peterson said if your kids or your pets happen to get into the water, make sure that they rinse afterward and contact a doctor or vet if symptoms occur.

“We always recommend showering after you have been in the water, and if you let your dog in the water just make sure you bathe them after,” Peterson said.

The bacteria is part of every waterway, even areas with good quality water. It becomes more of a concern when it builds up, and it especially builds up when the water is calm. That’s why health officials push to educate everyone about the risk.

Right now the health department is testing the water twice a week. They post their results on their website to educate the public along with an Algae Bloom Guide. They have also posted signage to warn of the bacteria.

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