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State issues advisory in response to algal blooms

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State officials are urging the public to avoid contact with greenish-blue water in the Albemarle Sound and adjoining waterways following the sighting of an algal bloom that has lingered in the area since May 14. Seen here on Tuesday afternoon is Charles Creek along Southern Avenue in Elizabeth City.

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The Perquimans Weekly

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

HERTFORD — State officials are urging the public to avoid contact with greenish-blue water in the Albemarle Sound and adjoining waterways given the continued sighting of algal blooms since May 14.

Blooms have been observed along the eastern and western banks of the Perquimans River, in the Pasquotank River near Elizabeth City, and on the western shore of the Chowan River, officials with the N.C. Division of Water Resources said. Counties currently affected include Bertie, Chowan, Pasquotank and Perquimans. Algal blooms tend to move around due to wind and wave action.

Staff with the Division of Water Resources’ Water Sciences Program have been monitoring the bloom. Algae contributing to the bloom have been identified as dolichospermum, which belongs to the algal group cyanobacteria, or bluegreen algae. Algal blooms of this type usually appear bright green but can change to a milky blue when they start to decay. Decaying algae produces a strong, foul odor that can affect a large area of water.

Some species of cyanobacteria, including dolichospermum, have the ability to produce toxins, called cyanotoxins, which can adversely affect human health. North Carolina has had no reports of adverse health effects in people yet because of the algal bloom. Nonetheless, state health officials encourage the public to avoid contact with large accumulations of algae and to prevent children and pets from swimming or ingesting water in an algal bloom.

State water quality and health officials suggest the following steps to safeguard pets and children from any algal bloom:

Keep children and pets away from water that appears bright green, blue, discolored or scummy. Do not handle or touch large mats of algae.

Avoid handling, cooking or eating dead fish.

Wash thoroughly following exposure to water where an algal bloom is occurring.

Rinse off pets that have been exposed to water where an algal bloom is occurring.

Seek immediate medical care for a child who appears ill after exposure to an algal bloom.

Seek immediate veterinary care for a pet that appears to stumble, stagger or collapse after being in a pond, lake or river.

For more information about potential health effects from algal blooms, visit the N.C. Division of Public Health on the web at https://publichealth.nc.gov/. To learn more about algal blooms in North Carolina, visit the Division of Water Resources on the web at https://deq.nc.gov/about/divisions/water-resources.

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