Department of Health warns of toxic algae in Scott Pond, RI

Lincoln, RI – The Rhode Island Department of Health and Department of Environmental Management are advising the public to avoid contact with Scott Pond in Lincoln due to a probable blue-green algae (or cyanobacteria) bloom in the pond. Blue-green algae can release toxins that can harm humans and animals.

Pending test results, which are expected next week, people should be careful to not ingest water or eat fish from the pond.  Because pets can also be affected by exposure to algal toxins, pet owners should not allow their animals to drink the water or swim in it.

Irritation of the skin, nose, eyes, and/or throat are common side effects that result from contact with water containing algal toxins.  If water containing algal toxins is ingested, health effects can include stomach ache, diarrhea, vomiting, and nausea. Young children and pets are at greater risk than adults, since they are more likely to drink contaminated water.  Other health effects, which are rarer, include dizziness, headache, fever, liver damage, and nervous system damage. People who have been swimming in, or have otherwise been in contact with, Scott Pond and experience those symptoms should contact their healthcare providers.
 
Anyone who comes into contact with this water should rinse their skin with clean water as soon as possible, bathe, and wash their clothes.  If a pet comes in contact with this water, the pet should be washed with clean water.  Do not let the animal lick algae off of its fur.  Call a veterinarian if the pet shows any symptoms of blue-green algae poisoning, which include loss of energy, loss of appetite, vomiting, diarrhea, or any unexplained sickness that occurs within a few days of contact with the water.

Toxins may persist in the water after the blue-green algae bloom is no longer visible.

The public should avoid contact with any body of water in Rhode Island that is bright green or has a dense, floating algal mat on the water's surface.  Blue-green algae blooms may look like green paint or thick pea soup.  To report suspected blue-green algae blooms, call Brian Zalewsky at the DEM at 401-222-4700, ext. 7145 or email brian.zalewsky@dem.ri.gov. If possible, send a photograph of the suspected algae bloom.