Keep an eye out for blue-green algae if you're at a lake this summer - it's something you will want to avoid, according to Northern health.
With the warming weather blooms of the algae may appear. It can look like scum, grass clippings, fuzz or globs on the surface of water and often smells musty or grassy. And it can take on a variety of hues - blue-green, greenish-brown, brown, or pinkish-red.
Coming into contact with the stuff, by either drinking the water or swimming in the lake, can have consequences, such as skin irritation, rash, sore throat, sore red eyes, swollen lips, fever, nausea and vomiting or diarrhea.
"Weather and wind conditions can cause algae blooms to move from one location in the lake to another," Northern Health said.
"Given the shifting nature of algae blooms and the ever-changing potential for toxicity from day to day, testing for toxins is not always reliable.
"Instead, it is safest to assume the blooms may contain toxins and adhere to the precautions."
Symptoms usually appear within one to three hours and resolve in one to two days and are often more pronounced in children.
Here are some further tips from Northern Health:
- If contact occurs, wash with tap water as soon as possible.
- Do not drink or cook with untreated water directly from any lake at any time. Boiling lake water will not remove the toxins produced by blue-green algae.
- An alternate source of drinking water should also be provided for pets and livestock. Pet owners should be wary of allowing pets to walk off-leash where they may be able to drink lake water - illnesses are a common outcome.
Those who suspect a problem related to blue-green algae are welcome to contact the Ministry of Environment at EnvironmentalComplaints@gov.bc.ca. For further information on health concerns, call Environmental Health at 250-565-2150.
Additional information is also available at healthlinkbc.ca.