Toxic algae found in Indiana waterways: What you need to know to identify it and how to stay safe

Indiana health officials have a warning for Hoosiers after high levels of blue-green algae were found in bodies of water around the state.

Posted: Aug 20, 2019 8:13 AM

VIGO COUNTY, Ind. (WTHI)- Indiana health officials have a warning for Hoosiers after high levels of blue-green algae were found in bodies of water around the state.

Just recently, three dogs came in contact with the algae, and died from it.

Current sampling shows the algae in 9 different locations in the area.

According to the Indiana Department of Environmental Management, those areas include:

  • Lake Monroe - Paynetown SRA
  • Lake Monroe - Fairfax SRA
  • Starve Hollow Lake - Starve Hollow SRA
  • Hardy Lake – Hardy Lake State Recreation Area
  • Cecil M. Harden Lake - Raccoon Lake SRA
  • Brookville Lake - Mounds SRA
  • Brookville Lake - Quakertown SRA
  • Whitewater Lake - Whitewater Memorial State Park
  • Deam Lake – Deam Lake SRA

Blue-green algae are technically photosynthesis but act like algae. It's something that's experts say has been around for almost 20 years.

It's been a major talker in the area because of the increase of blooms in the waterways.

There are things that you should know when identifying it and how you can stay safe if you see it.

The blooms forms from excess in nutrients that often comes from runoff and fertilizers.

It's not always visible in waterways but if you see something that looks like spilled paint that's most likely it. Another identifier is the blue or green color it presents. 

News 10 spoke with Cyndi Wagner on the recent concerns.  Wagner's chief of the targeted monitoring section in the office of water quality at IDEM.

She confirmed for us that the algae can be deadly for animals.

"They can become sick very quickly. If you suspect that they've ingested toxins from blue-green algae or they're showing symptoms it's considered an emergency for the veterinarian," Wagner said.

While we can't stop the algae from blooming we can prevent it from causing us any harm.

If it is present in the water do not drink from it, even for cooking purposes and shower after being in the water.

Some symptoms may be vomiting, rashes, sore throat, and headaches.

Symptoms generally begin hours to two days after exposure.

Wagner suggests, "If you're swimming in any natural body of water the public health advice is always the same. Regardless of what the risk is... you don't drink the water and when you're done swimming you take a shower with soap and you should minimize the risks from blue-green algae."

Samplings are done in Indiana waterways every Friday. For more information on how to find those samplings, click here.

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