MDHHS: Be aware of harmful algal blooms


GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services is warning Michigan residents to be careful around harmful algal blooms.

Harmful algal blooms, or HABs, can be harmful to people and animals and often form in August and September, MDHHS said in a Tuesday release. They form due to rapid overgrowth of cyanobacteria, or blue-green algae. Cyanobacteria can produce toxins.

“Before going in the water, we recommend Michiganders look for visible algal blooms or scums on any lake, and that people and pets stay out of water in areas that look affected,” Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, chief medical executive and chief deputy for health for MDHHS, said in the release.

HAB can look like algal scums or mats. Breathing of swallowing water with HABs can lead to a variety of symptoms, including runny eyes or nose, asthma-like symptoms, stomach pain and dizziness. Skin contact can lead to rashes, blisters and hives.

Animals, especially dogs, can die after contact with HABs.

If you think you may have come in contact or swallowed water with HABs and feel sick, MDHHS said you should call your doctor or poison control at 800.222.1222, or seek emergency medical attention if your symptoms are severe.

More information about HABs and how to avoid them can be found at

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