MADERA COUNTY – The Madera County Department of Public Health is warning about evidence of harmful algal blooms found by the Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board in Hensley Lake.
Hensley Lake is located about eight miles southeast of Raymond, and is one of several recreational bodies of water in Madera County.
When the hot summer sun combines with high nutrient levels in slow-moving water, harmful algal blooms can develop, causing illness in people and animals.
“With Labor Day picnics and celebrations by the water, people can more frequently come in contact with bodies of water possibly containing harmful algal blooms,” says Sara Bosse, Madera County Department of Public Health Director.
Harmful algal blooms (HABs) can produce toxins posing a health risk if the affected water is touched or swallowed. Signs include eye irritation, skin rashes, mouth ulcers, vomiting, diarrhea and cold and flu-like symptoms.
Symptoms can be more severe in pets and livestock.
Children and adults can experience serious injury to the liver, kidney and nervous systems if affected water is swallowed, says Bosse. Medical treatment should be sought immediately if a person, pet or livestock is suspected to have algal toxin poisoning.
Harmful algal blooms can appear as blue-green, pea green, white or brown foam, scum or mats floating on the water’s surface and collect along shorelines and boat ramp areas. Other times, it is less visible, floating beneath the surface or on the bottom of a water body. If in doubt, stay out of the water.
Keep yourself and your family safe:
- Look for nearby posted advisory signs: “CAUTION”, “WARNING”, “DANGER”; read and follow instructions.
- Check online to see if lakes or ponds have a reported bloom, contact the waterbody manager.
- Take care that pets and livestock do not drink the water, swim through algae, scums or mats, or lick their fur after going in the water. Rinse pets in clean water to remove algae from fur.
- Avoid wading, swimming, jet or water skiing in water containing algal blooms, scums or mats.
- Do not drink, cook or wash dishes with untreated surface water from these areas under any circumstances. Common water purification techniques, such as camping filters, tablets and boiling, do not remove toxins.
- Limit or avoid eating fish from these areas. If fish are consumed, remove the guts and liver, and rinse fillets in clean drinking water.
- Get medical treatment immediately if you think that you, your children, your pet or livestock might have been poisoned by blue-green algae toxins. Alert the medical professionals to the possible contact with blue-green algae.
For more information:
For current local or state swimming or fishing advisories visit https://mywaterquality.ca.gov/habs/where/freshwater_events.html.
California Department of Public Health harmful algal bloom page: