The Illinois Environmental Protection Agency and Department of Public Health are advising the people of Illinois to be very careful when it comes to some of the state’s rivers and lakes. Specifically, be cautious of a blue-green algae blooms (i.e. rapid growths). This algae is known as cyanobacteria and can potentially cause sickness to people and pets depending on the amount and type of exposure. The children, elderly, and people with compromised immune systems are at the highest risk.

Sickness caused from the water can be caused by direct skin contact, swallowing contaminated water, or inhaling water droplets. Symptoms can include rashes, hives, diarrhea, vomiting, coughing, or wheezing.

So be on the lookout for bodies of water that appears to have…

  • The appearance of spilled green or blue paint
  • Surface scums, mats, or films
  • Discolored or green-colored streaks
  • Globs of green suspended in the water below the surface

If you or your pet make contact with water that may be contaminated, rinse off with fresh water.

It should be noted that activities near the water (camping, picnics, hiking, etc.) are not affected—only activities in the water (swimming, boating, etc.).

If you are concerned you have symptoms that are a result of exposure to algal toxins, contact your health care provider or call the Illinois Poison Center at 1-800-222-1222. If your pet experiences symptoms that may be a result of exposure, contact your veterinarian.

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