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State Warns Residents About Toxic Algae Blooms

Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality

Several state departments are warning Wyoming residents about the risks of algal blooms.

According to the Wyoming Departments of Health and Environmental Quality and the Wyoming Livestock Board, harmful cyanobacterial blooms (HBCs) are found in still or slow moving bodies of water like lakes and are more likely to be present with warmer temperatures.

Karl Musgrave, state environmental health epidemiologist and public health veterinarian, said residents should check water before allowing their pets or kids to jump in.

"The typical way things look like somebody just dumped green paint in the water or somebody just dumped fresh grass clippings in the water," Musgrave said.

The algal blooms are toxic to people and animals if ingested, and there is no cure for the toxin. Musgrave said animals, especially dogs, are most at risk.

"Dogs are typically more at risk because they jump in the lake and they are drinking a lot of the water while they are swimming, so that's why it's especially dangerous for dogs," he said.

He added the toxin can be fatal to dogs.

If you or your animal do come into contact with an HCB, Musgrave said to rinse off with fresh water as soon as possible and to check in with a doctor or veterinarian.

Musgrave said the blooms can last for weeks or months, though he said HCBs typically dissipate once the water begins to freeze.

Musgrave said people should avoid the water if you suspect an HCB and to report it to the DEQ's Report-A-Spill Hotline. The DEQ will test the water to see if HCBs are present.

More information on HCBs and all current advisories can be found here. There are currently four advisories in Wyoming: Eden Reservoir in Sweetwater County; Toltec Reservoir in Albany County, Leazenby Lake in Albany County; and Woodruff Narrows Reservoir in Uinta County.

Catherine Wheeler comes to Wyoming from Kansas City, Missouri. She has worked at public media stations in Missouri and on the Vox podcast "Today, Explained." Catherine graduated from Fort Lewis College with a BA in English. She recently received her master in journalism from the University of Missouri. Catherine enjoys cooking, looming, reading and the outdoors.
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