Friends of Rietvlei
Member of the Wildlife & Environment Society of South Africa Western Cape Region
Eco Bites
Toxic Algae in Rietvlei
What are blue-green algae?
Blue-green algae are natural inhabitants of many inland waters, estuaries and the sea. In still waters such as lakes, ponds and reservoirs, these algae may multiply sufficiently in summer months to discolour the water, so that it appears green, blue-green or greenish brown.
  
Are they harmful?
Sometimes these algae produce toxins which can be harmful to man and animals
High concentrations of the algal blooms float and form a thick blue-green scum
  
Who is at risk?
Recreational water users and livestock farmers and anyone else coming into direct contact with infected water
  
How do blue-green algae affect me?
Blue-green algae toxins may cause:
Skin rashes
Eye irritation
Vomiting
Fever
Muscle and joint pain
Possible long-term liver damage
  
What must I do when I come into contact with blue-green algae?
Wash immediately with clean water
If symptoms persist, consult your doctor
Report the incident to the authorities in your region
  
First aid treatment
Drink activated carbon charcoal tablets
Treat symptomatically
  
What is important to know about blue-green algae?
Blooms flourish in warmer summer waters, and in many areas die down during winter time
Plant nutrients promote the growth of these algae
Toxins produced can survive high temperatures
Toxicity fluctuates constantly. It is possible for algae to be toxic one day, and not the next
   
To be safe, avoid contact with the scum and the water close to it.
Use water at own discretion and at own risk!!!!
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