JOHNSON COUNTY, Ks. – Health officials sound the alarm after conditions at more than a dozen Kansas lakes are deemed unsafe for human and pet exposure due to potential deadly algae.
The Kansas Department of Health and Environment and the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks have issued 13 warnings and nine watches at area lakes due to cyanobacteria, also known as blue-green algae.
The natural-occurring blooms found in all freshwater bodies can stimulate the growth of cyanobacterial harmful algal blooms (HABs) due to increased temperatures and nutrients, according to the Environmental Protection Agency,
If a human drinks water from HABs that contain certain toxins, it could become fatal. Pet owners should be aware that animals that swim in or drink affected or eat dried algae along the shore may experience symptoms such as excessive salivation, fatigue, difficulty breathing, vomiting, diarrhea, seizures, or death within hours to days of exposure.
Health officials say if you observe a scum or paint-like surface on the water, small floating blue-green clumps or filaments in the water, or if the water is an opaque green, avoid contact and keep pets away. These are indications that a harmful bloom may be present and avoided.
HABs in U.S. freshwater systems have increased in frequency since the early 2000s as a result of climate change, according to the EPA.