RHODE ISLAND, July 29 – The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) and the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM) are advising people to avoid contact with the Island Drive bridge area of Johnson’s Pond in Coventry due to a blue-green algae (or cyanobacteria) bloom in the pond. Blue algae can produce toxins that can harm humans and animals. Bloom conditions can change quickly and other areas of the water body may be affected. Users in other areas should therefore exercise caution.
People should also be careful not to ingest water or eat fish from the pond. All recreation, including fishing, boating, and kayaking, should be avoided. Animals likely to ingest contaminated water are particularly exposed to algal toxins. Owners should therefore not allow animals to drink or swim in the water. The advisory will remain in effect until further notice.
Skin contact with water containing blue-green algae often causes irritation of the skin, nose, eyes and/or throat. Common health effects associated with ingesting water containing algal toxins include stomach upset, diarrhea, vomiting, and nausea. Rarer health effects include dizziness, headache, fever, liver damage, and nervous system damage. Young children and pets are particularly at risk for the health effects associated with algal toxins. People who have been in contact with pond water and experience these symptoms should contact their health care provider.
If you come into contact with water, rinse your skin with clean water as soon as possible and when you get home, take a shower and wash your clothes. Likewise, if your pet comes into contact with water, wash it immediately with clear water. Do not let the animal lick the algae from its fur. Call a veterinarian if your pet shows symptoms of blue-green algae poisoning, including loss of energy, loss of appetite, vomiting, diarrhea, or any unexplained illness that occurs about a day after being in contact with water. People are being warned that toxins can linger in the water after the blue-green algae bloom is no longer visible.
Blue-green algae blooms may affect other bodies of water in Rhode Island. People are advised to avoid contact with bodies of water that exhibit bright green coloration in the water or on the water’s surface and/or dense floating mats of algae that form on the surface some water. The water may look like green paint, thick pea soup, or green cottage cheese.
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