Harmful algal blooms found at some Kentucky lakes - 14 News, WFIE, Evansville, Henderson, Owensboro

Harmful algal blooms found at some Kentucky lakes

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The Kentucky Division of Water has confirmed the presence of harmful algal blooms (HABs), , or cyanaobacteria, levels exceeding recommended safety levels at four lakes in central Kentucky.

They include Beaver Lake in Anderson County, Guist Creek Lake in Shelby County, Lake Reba in Madison County and Willisburg Lake in Washington County. 

The World Health Organization has established a "cautionary" threshold of cyanobacteria cell concentrations at 100,000 cells per milliliter. The four Kentucky lakes -- identified in the table below -- were found to exceed this threshold during two rounds of testing by DOW.

The lake being tested are:

Beaver Lake-tested on August 27-1,000,000 HAB Cells/ml
Beaver Lake-tested on October 10->100,000 HAB Cells/ml
Guist Creek Lake- August 5-135,000 HAB Cells/ml
Guist Cree Lake- October 10-100,000 HAB Cells/ml
Reba Lake-July 17->20,000 HAB Cells/ml
Reba Lake-October 15-130,000 HAB Cells/ml
Willisburg Lake-August 27->100,000 HAB Cells/ml
Willisburg Lake-October 10- 100,000 HAB Cells/ml

The blooms can produce toxins that may be hazardous to animals and humans. Symptoms of exposure may include gastrointestinal symptoms such as stomach pain, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea; skin and eye irritation; and/or throat irritation or breathing difficulties. 

Clark Dorman, manager of the DOW Water Quality Branch, said it is important to understand are to be closed to the public. Rather, the advisories and cautions are intended to educate the public about the water bodies so that they may make informed decisions.

The following guidelines are recommended to avoid exposure to HABs:

  • Direct contact with affected water, including swimming, wading, fishing, paddling, diving and water skiing may result in symptoms. It is advisable to avoid contact with water that has unusual color or where blue-green bacteria have been identified, even if the water appears to be clear.
  • People who are prone to respiratory allergies or asthma should avoid areas with harmful algal blooms. Children may be particularly sensitive.
  • If contact has been made with water containing blue-green algae, wash off with fresh water. In some cases, skin irritation will appear after prolonged exposure. If symptoms persist, consult your local health care provider.
  • Fish fillets (not organs) may be consumed after the fillets have been rinsed in clean, non-lake water. It is advisable to wash any parts of your body that have come into contact with the fish.
  • Prevent pets and livestock from coming into contact with HAB-infested waters.

Public water systems depending on lakes for their raw water source should consider monitoring for the presence of HABs and adjust treatment of the water accordingly. Algal blooms are easily addressed through water treatment techniques, and the water produced from these sources is safe to drink.

If you are concerned that you have symptoms that are a result of exposure to HABs, please see your doctor and call your local health department.

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