LAC LA BICHE - A blue-green algae advisory has been put into effect for Elinor Lake as of Monday afternoon. Individuals visiting the lake located roughly 40 km southeast of the hamlet of Lac La Biche are encouraged to avoid the cyanobacteria that can cause serious health effects, according to a press release by Alberta Health Services (AHS).
“People who come in contact with visible blue-green algae or who ingest water containing blue-green algae may experience skin irritation, rash, sore throat, sore red eyes, swollen lips, fever, nausea and vomiting and/or diarrhea," reads the public health advisory.
AHS recommends that “residents living near the shores of this lake” and or visitors are highly encouraged to avoid coming in contact with the blue-green algae. The algae appear “like scum, grass clippings, fuzz or globs on the surface of water,” and smells “musty or grassy." Essentially, AHS recommends visitors avoid swimming where blooms are visible.
"Avoid all contact with blue-green algae (cyanobacteria) blooms. If contact occurs, wash with tap water as soon as possible,” AHS officials say.
The water from Elinor Lake should not be consumed by humans, pets or livestock due to the blue-green algae effects—boiled or not, say officials.
“Boiling of this water will not remove the toxins produced by blue-green algae. An alternate source of drinking water should also be provided for pets and livestock while this advisory is active.”
Additionally, pets should not be allowed to swim in contaminated areas or eat “whole fish” or trimmings from the lake. AHS also recommends individuals limit their fish consumption from the area.
“Consider limiting human consumption of whole fish and fish trimmings from this lake, as it is known that fish may store toxins in their liver. (People can safely consume fish fillets from this lake.)”
While the entire lake isn’t affected, officials say surface-level algae blooms are able to travel from one location to another due to wind conditions.
“Weather and wind conditions can cause algae blooms to move from one location in the lake to another. Due to this, the advisory will remain in effect for Elinor Lake until further notice.”
Otherwise, any locations with no blooms are safe for recreational activities, officials say.
While symptoms from blue-green algae usually appear within a few hours and subside anywhere from three to 48 hours, seeking medical attention if the illness ensues by calling 811 is important.