Toxic algae spotted on Lake Mendota

Blue-green algae present health risks
Toxic algae spotted on Lake Mendota

Toxic algae were spotted on Lake Mendota near the University of Wisconsin campus and in Lake Waubesa, according to a release from UW officials.

Officials said cyanobacteria, or blue-green algae blooms, were spotted Tuesday in the area of Memorial Union and Hoofers.

The public is urged to avoid contact with the algae and not swim at night when the blooms can’t be seen.

The algae blooms occur when there is little wind and hot temperatures combined with lake nutrients.

Symptoms of a reaction to algae blooms include eye, throat, nose or skin irritation, and vomiting or diarrhea. These symptoms can happen between several hours and a few days after being exposed.

“We just finally got our new facilities, and getting new facilities we actually had to make sure we got our shower facilities because as you can tell with our windsurfers out there, they’re falling in the water all the time, and they are getting it on their skin and their clothing, so we have to come up with some kind of response for that,” said J.J. Pagac, a past Hoofers president.

Kristi Sorsa has been monitoring water quality for Madison and Dane County for more than a decade, and a sample of blue-green algae came in last week. Tuesday it was found in portions, but not all of Lake Mendota.

“Just areas right now. We’ve got the report on Memorial Union and Hoofer pier. Somebody was sampling James Madison and didn’t report anything at that site,” Sorsa said. “Lake Waubesa often gets blooms and that started last week.”

The Wisconsin Department of Health Services advises the following:

Avoid areas of water that look like paint or pea soup.
Don’t swim or wade through algae.
Don’t fish in algae-laden waters. Always shower with soap after swimming in a lake, or wash your hands after coming in contact with lake water. Don’t let pets drink lake water, eat algae or lick it off their fur.
Wash your pet with clean water if it has been exposed.

If you believe you have been exposed, contact your health care provider and call Public Health at 608-266-4821.