Vermont says waterway bacteria blooms continue into fall

Vermont News

A harmful algal bloom manifests in long strands. (Photo: NY DEC)

BURLINGTON, Vt. (AP) — Potentially dangerous cyanobacteria blooms are continuing into autumn this year and people need to be careful when using Vermont waterways, the Health Department says. The blooms are usually reported during the summer, but in recent years they have been reported as late as November.

“People continue to be out enjoying the state’s waters, so it’s important to be aware that cyanobacteria may still be present, and to keep children and pets away from blooms along the shorelines,” said Health Department Environmental Health Scientist Bridget O’Brien.

The Health Department says that over the last 50 years the water temperatures in Lake Champlain have increase by 2 degrees to 7 degrees, which extends the warm season for several weeks.

Cyanobacteria are tiny microorganisms that are a natural part of freshwater ecosystems. Under certain conditions—including warm, sunny weather—cyanobacteria can multiply quickly, creating blooms on the water’s surface that can wash up along shorelines.

The blooms can produce toxins harmful to humans and animals that may cause skin rashes, diarrhea, a sore throat, stomach problems, or more serious health problems. Children and pets are at higher risk because they are more likely to drink the water while swimming or playing, and pets may lick the cyanobacteria off their fur.

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