Community Issues

Lake Erie Health Warning: The Areas Swimmers Should Avoid

Why children and pets could get severely ill from the lake water.

A new health warning may put a cramp in your summer plans. The Erie County Department of Health says algae levels in Lake Erie could be dangerous.

According to health officials, there are at least eight swimming spots in the area around Presque Isle State Park where the algae blooms exceed a safe threshold for dogs . The Health Department says harmful algae blooms can produce extremely dangerous toxins that can cause illness or irritation, and sometimes death, in pets, livestock and humans. Small children are at the highest risk of illness.

You can click here to see the affected beaches and swimming areas.

According to the Pennsylvania Sea Grant the Exposure to algae blooms can lead to rashes, blisters and hives. If the water is swallowed it can lead to diarrhea, vomiting, abdominal pain, headaches, numbness and tingling. Pets may show signs of staggering, difficulty breathing, convulsions, salivation, weakness and vomiting .

Health officials say sunlight and slow-moving water contribute to algae growth. According to the Alliance for the Great Lakes, algae blooms are also caused by runoff pollution of fertilizer and manure. The Alliance says improved regulations and restrictions on runoff pollution could reduce the number of toxins and algae in Lake Erie.

The Alliance says the governors of Ohio and Michigan joined the premier of Ontario, committing to a 40 percent reduction in nutrients into the lake by 2025.

Photo courtesy Erie County.

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