Watch out for blue-green algae

As the summer season gets underway, NHS Tayside is issuing a reminder to people to be on the lookout for blue-green algae blooms.

Blue-green algae are tiny organisms which develop naturally in lochs, ponds, reservoirs, rivers and in the sea.

They are a common summer occurrence especially in waterbodies which have been affected by agricultural, domestic or industrial discharges.

The algae can multiply during the summer months and discolour the water which then appears green, blue-green or greenish brown and, occasionally, they clump together to form a scum on the surface of the water. At the shoreline, algal crusts may appear brown to almost black in colour.

People and animals can be affected as a result of direct contact with water affected by blue-green algae and NHS Tayside is advising the public, especially people undertaking water sports, anglers and dog owners, to be alert to the blooms as temperatures rise.

Dr Jackie Hyland, NHS Taysidee’s Consultant in Public Health Medicine, said: “We routinely monitor levels of blue-green algae over the warmer months because of the potential health risk to people and to animals,” .

“Contact with the algal scum or water close to it can cause skin rashes or eye irritation. If the water is accidentally swallowed, or affected fish eaten, then more serious health effects can include vomiting, diarrhoea, or pains in muscles and joints. These symptoms tend to be mild, but in some cases, can be severe.”

Call 08452 777778 if you find a body of water which you suspect harbours algae.