Winagami Lake waters post health risk to humans

SPN Staff

People are advised to be extra cautious when they get in the waters of Winagami Lake.
A health advisory was issued Sept. 8 by Alberta Health Services after a blue-green algae [cyano- bacteria] bloom was identified in areas of the lake between McLennan and High Prairie.
Residents living near the shores of the lake, as well as visitors to the lake, are advised to take the following precautions.
-Avoid all contact with blue-green algae blooms.
If contact occurs, wash with tap water as soon as possible.
-Do not swim or wade [or allow your pets to swim or wade] in any areas where blue-green algae is visible.
-Do not feed whole fish or fish trimmings from the lake to pets.
-Consider limiting human consumption of whole fish and fish trimmings from the lake, as it is known that fish may store toxins in their liver.
Areas of Winagami Lake in which the blue-green algae bloom is not visible can still be used for recreational purposes, even while the blue-green algae health advisory is in place.
People can safely consume fish fillets from the lake.
As always, visitors and residents are reminded to never drink or cook with untreated water directly from any recreational body of water, including Winagami Lake, at any time.
Boiling the 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.
Blue-green algae occurs naturally and often becomes visible when weather conditions are calm.
Appearing like scum, grass clippings, fuzz or globs on the surface of water, blue-green algae can be blue-green, greenish-brown, brown, and/or pinkish-red and often smell musty or grassy.
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. Symptoms usually appear within one to three hours and resolve in one to two days.
Symptoms in children are often more pronounced; however, all humans are at risk of symptoms.
Weather and wind conditions can cause algae blooms to move from one location in the lake to another. As such, the advisory will remain in effect for Winagami Lake until further notice.
If you suspect a problem related to blue-green algae or if you require further information on health concerns and blue-green algae, please call Health Link at 811.
Additional information is also available online at

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