MONTGOMERY COUNTY, Va. (WFXR) — Potentially toxic cyanobacteria have formed a “harmful algal bloom” (HAB) in Pandapas Pond in Montgomery County, which health officials warn may produce a toxin that can cause rashes and other illnesses.
Because of this type of blue-green algae, the Virginia Department of Health (VDH) urges pond visitors to stay out of the water.
You are also advised to keep children and pets out of the Pandapas Pond since their relatively low body weight puts them at greater risk of severe illness if they ingest the water. Pets can also get sick if they get wet and then lick their fur, the department says.
According to the VDH, HABs occur when warm water and nutrients combine to create favorable growing conditions for algae. The algae can become so dense that they turn the water green or bluish-green and form scummy clumps or glops on the water surface which look like paint.
Health officials say activities that may result in accidental ingestion — such as swimming — pose the greatest risk due to the potential for this algae to produce toxins. However, visitors may continue activities like kayaking, canoeing, and fishing as long as you take precautions to avoid contact with the water.
“The Department of Environmental Quality will conduct follow-up sampling in September to check on the status of the bloom,” said Gary Coggins, environmental health manager senior, New River Health District. “We also are working with the U.S. Forest Service to coordinate announcements, post signs, and to inform visitors of the bloom so they may take care to avoid contact with the water.”
To prevent illness, the VDH encourages you to follow these healthy water habits:
- Never allow people or pets to drink untreated water.
- Avoid contact with any waterbody with discolored water, water that smells bad, or has an advisory sign.
- Keep children and pets out of advisory areas. If contact with bloom water cannot be avoided, quickly wash their skin or fur with plenty of clean fresh water.
- If you experience symptoms after swimming in or near an algal bloom, seek medical care and let the provider know about your exposure to the bloom water.
To report algal blooms please submit via the Online HAB Report Form. If you think you have experienced an algae-related health effect, report your illness to the Harmful Algal Bloom Hotline at (888) 238-6154.
For more information or to see where other algae advisories have been issued, follow this link.
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