Conditions Right for Blue Green Algae

By: Dana Brueck
By: Dana Brueck

Madison's public health department closed one of its beaches due to heavy algae. That beach is now re-opened, but experts say blooms can change as quickly as the weather. Veterinarian Richard Karlburg has seen the toxic effects of blue green algae on man's best friend.

"I had a couple of dogs come in with severe intestinal upset," Dr. Karlburg says.

He says it can happen every year, dogs swim and ingest algae infested lake water.

"I have had cases, neurological, they didn't survive," he says.

The same applies to people. Back in 2002, this teenaged boy died after diving into a golf course pond. The coroner later determined the boy died from exposure to a toxin released by algae.

"We aren't sure what it's for, but it's there," Bob Masnado from the state's DNR says.

And, experts want people to understand its effects. Symptoms include a skin rash, hives and irritated throat or eyes.

People or animals who swallow water with an algal bloom might suffer, vomiting, diarrhea, seizures or respiratory failure.

"We don't want to make like sky is falling, it's not, people can choose where to recreate common sense drive what they do," Masnado says.

The public health department closes beaches due to heavy blooms. But other agencies also try to control the blooms.

This year, Monona Bay has solar powered water circulators, and a ban on fertilizer with phosphorous is countywide.

Meantime, experts recommend people steer clear of the blooms, and make sure kids do too. Dr. Karlburg says pets who come into contact with algae deserve a good bath.

"Wash off all contaminants," he says.

Madison's department of public health says Hudson beach is still closed to due heavy algae. Olin beach also is closed. The parks department opens beaches with lifeguards this weekend, provided the health department signs off.

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