PORTAGE, Mich. (WOOD) — A public health advisory has been issued for a Portage lake due to a harmful algal bloom, according to Kalamazoo County health department.
On Tuesday, samples from Austin Lake in Portage came back positive for microcystin, a variety of cyanobacteria that can produce toxins, according to the Kalamazoo County Health and Community Services Department. The county, along with the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services issued a public health advisory.
If exposed to the contaminated water, humans and pets may experience health problems like skin irritation, gastrointestinal issues and respiratory symptoms. More severe cases can result in neurological symptoms or organ damage. People and pets should avoid swallowing or touching water that appears blue-green or like it has a green sheen or spilled paint on the surface, the health department said.
Recreational activities on the lake can continue while taking those precautions, the department added, but could worsen in impacts by kicking up water spray which may cause more skin, eye, nose or throat irritation.
Harmful algal blooms can last for several days or months. The State of Michigan Bureau of Laboratories will test the positive samples from Austin Lake for confirmation and to find out the microcystin levels.
If you think you may have had contact with or swallowed water with cyanotoxins and have symptoms such as stomach pain, vomiting, diarrhea, weakness, numbness, headaches, dizziness or difficulty breathing, talk to your doctor or call Poison Control at 800.222.1222.
Symptoms of cyanotoxins usually appear quicker in animals than people. If your pet has come in contact with contaminated water and is experiencing vomiting, diarrhea, fatigue, staggered walking, excessive drooling or convulsions, contact a veterinarian immediately, according to the health department.
The state has a picture guide to help identify harmful algal blooms in water. For more information, visit the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy’s website or the Kalamazoo County Health and Community Service’s Environmental Health Division at 269.373.5210.