DES MOINES – A swimming and contact advisory is being issued for Big Creek Lake north of Des Moines due to a blue-green algae bloom occurring over the weekend.
Water samples were taken on Monday with results expected back later this week.
“If you are in an area where it’s visibly showing masses of algae or a blue-green paint color, you should avoid contact with the water and keep pets away from it,” said Greg VanFosson, DNR district parks supervisor.
The presence of blue-green paint color in the water at Big Creek has prompted concerns about microcystin, a product of blue-green algae.
“We don’t want to scare people, as this is a naturally occurring event. It happens every year in our lakes and rivers,” he said. “We just want people to be aware that if the mycrocystins are present, it can cause problems for people or pets.”
People and pets should not be in contact with water that has a poor appearance. The appearance can be a pea-green or blue-green color, but also a reddish-brown. It may appear with scum, foam or as a thick mat on the water surface. Blue-green algae can grow quickly and become very abundant in warm, shallow, undisturbed surface water that receives a lot of sunlight.
The main risk to humans from microcystin is skin irritations and rashes, but if the water is swallowed or airborne droplets are inhaled during swimming, bathing or showering, symptoms could be worse. Those would include headaches, nausea, abdominal pain, seizures, liver injury and respiratory problems.
People can take the following precautions to prevent health-related problems due to harmful algal blooms: