Ionia County Health Department issues advisory on algae hazardous to Lake Morrison

The Ionia County Department of Health, in consultation with the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, has issued a public health advisory regarding potentially harmful algae identified in Morrison Lake, located in the Clarksville area and Saranac.

People and pets should avoid direct bodily contact with frothy lake water, water that looks like spilled paint, and water that has a green sheen. The scum may contain spots, moss or clumps.

People and pets should also avoid swallowing lake water.
The precautionary statements are based on water samples taken on June 30 and may change over time

the information becomes available. Health ministry officials warn that the amount of algae in the lake could change quickly.

What is an algae bloom?

While most algae blooms are not harmful, some are a type of cyanobacteria capable of producing toxins and can lead to harmful algal bloom (HAB). These toxins can affect the liver, nervous system and / or skin.

The type of toxin that can produce HAB was detected in five of eight samples from Lake Morrison on June 30. The Michigan Department of the Environment, Great Lakes and Energy (EGLE) may take additional samples. Residents should remain cautious before contacting algae or potential HABs until the lake is free of algal toxins.

What causes HABs to form?

Some factors that can contribute to HABs include sunlight, low water or low flow conditions, calm water, warmer temperatures, and excess nutrient phosphorus or nitrogen. The main sources of nutrient pollution are runoff from fertilizers, animal manure, sewage treatment plant discharges, runoff, emissions from cars and power plants, and faulty septic tanks.

How dangerous are HABs?

If you touch HABs, swallow water containing HAB toxins, or breathe in water droplets, you may have a rash, allergic reaction, or upset stomach; or you feel dizzy or dizzy.

HABs are also harmful to pets.

Ministry of Health officials advise to test for HABs before going in the water and to check published HAB advisories.

What should I do if I see an HAB?

  • Do not drink untreated surface water, whether or not there are blooms. Remember that boiling water will not flush out toxins.
  • Obey public health and / or beach closure warning signs.
  • Do not allow children or pets to play or drink water containing algae or scum.
  • Do not sail at high speed, water ski, or swim in areas of the lake where algae blooms are
    gift. Avoid direct contact with lake water or sprinklers.
  • Do not spray lawns, gardens or golf courses with water from affected lakes or ponds, as this aerosolizes the water.
  • Individual homeowners should not use algaecides due to the risk of toxins being released directly into the water. Treatment requires a permit from EGLE.
  • Do not come into direct contact with mussels or other bivalves (i.e. zebra mussels) from affected areas.
  • Limit or avoid eating fish from the affected areas. If you eat fish, eat only the fillets – remove the viscera and liver and rinse the fillets with clean water. Always follow the specific Eat Safe Fish guidelines for water bodies or the Statewide Safe Fish guidelines, even if a body of water does not appear to be affected, available at www.michigan.gov/eatsafefish.

People and pets may experience the following symptoms after contact with an algae bloom:

  • Contact with the skin can cause rashes, hives or skin blisters (especially on the lips and under swimwear).
  • Inhalation of aerosolized lake water mists (suspended water droplets) from recreational activities and / or lawn watering may cause discharge from the eyes and nose, sore throat, or symptoms such as asthma, allergic reactions. • Ingestion of contaminated water may cause severe diarrhea or vomiting and abdominal pain, abnormal liver function, kidney toxicity, weakness, salivation, tingling in the fingers, numbness, dizziness, difficulty respiratory or death.
  • If you think you have been exposed to an algae bloom, take the following precautions:
  • Remove persons from exposure and seek medical attention if symptoms appear.
  • Rinse pets thoroughly with clean, cool water if they have swam in an area with an algae bloom. If they lick their fur after leaving the water, they can ingest large amounts of the toxin.
  • See a vet as soon as possible if you think your pet may have been poisoned by toxic algae.
  • For more information visit ioniacounty.org/health/health-department or call (616) 527-5341.


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