Health advisory issued for Black Lake

Officials warn against contact with algae

ALPENA — Health officials with District Health Department No. 4 are keeping an eye on an algae bloom in Black Lake near Onaway, which has been identified as a cyanobacterial algal bloom, meaning it produces toxin.

Environmental Health Director Scott Smith told the health department board on Tuesday testing from the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy identified it as a cyanobacterial algal bloom, but water samples taken recently were negative for one of the toxins the cyanobacteria can produce.

“We’re just going to keep an eye on it, and if we have to put out an advisory, we’ll do that, and contact our beach owners and make sure people don’t come into direct contact with the blooming algae,” Smith said.

The Health Department issued a public health bulletin on Monday, advising people to avoid direct body contact with algae in the lake or water that is blue-green and to keep pets away from such water, as well.

Water where algae is present can also appear to have a green sheen or look like spilled paint on its surface. The algae layers may contain flecks, foam, or clumps.

The bulletin also warned people not to swallow the lake water.

Based on the current information, people and their pets can continue to enjoy recreational activities on the lake, such as boating, tubing and fishing, where algae blooms are not visible. The bulletin also states people and their pets should rinse off with fresh water if they come into contact with algae.

Smith said the algae bloom has somewhat dispersed. However, changes in the weather could cause the algae bloom to redevelop and become more significant.

Medical Director Joshua Meyerson said algae bloom toxins can make a person sick if the algae is ingested, causing an upset stomach, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. He said that, if enough of the algae is ingested, it becomes a neurotoxin and can cause seizures.

He said the cyanobacteria can also irritate a person’s skin if they have waded into the algae.

Crystal Nelson can be reached at 989-358-5687 or cnelson@thealpenanews.com.