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Officials issue blue-green algae warnings for six Kansas lakes

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TOPEKA, Kan. — Health officials in Kansas are asking visitors to the state’s public lakes to keep an eye out for potentially harmful blooms of blue-green algae as the weather heats up.

According to the Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE)—which tests publicly-accessable bodies of water for cyanobacteria (Blue-green algae)—the blooms are often unpredictable and may float around the lake, requiring visitors to exercist their best judgement. The blooms often appear as a bright-green surface scum, or as a paint-like surface on the water.

Blue-Green Algae Bloom (Credit: Getty)

Blue-Green Algae Bloom (Credit: Getty)

In a statement released on Thursday, the agency says that lakes under a public health warning for blue-green algae are not closed, and marinas,lakeside businesses and park camping facilities are open for business. If swim beaches or lakes are closed, it will be specifically noted. In addition, drinking water and showers at parks are safe and not affected by algae blooms. Boating and fishing are safe on lakes under a Warning, but contact with the water—including swimming, wading and water skiing) should be avoided, and skin that comes into contact with contaminated lake water should be washed with clean water immediately.

It is safe to eat fish caught during a harmful blue-green algae outbreak, as long as the fish is rinsed with clean water; consume only the fillet portion and discard all other parts. Hands should also be washed with clean water after handling fish taken from an affected lake. The agency also warns pet owners to keep their pets away from the blooms, as they may become seriously ill or die.

The agency says that public health warnings have been issued for the following lakes in Kansas:

BROWN COUNTY STATE FISHING LAKE, Brown County
CHISHOLM CREEK PARK LAKE, Sedgwick County
LOVEWELL RESERVOIR, Jewell County
MEMORIAL PARK LAKE, Barton County
MILFORD RESERVOIR (All Zones), Clay, Dickinson and Geary Counties
PLAINVILLE TOWNSHIP LAKE, Rooks County