Posted by: Vicki Burns | August 6, 2010

Blue-green Algae at Victoria Beach and other Manitoba Beaches – Is it dangerous?

Yesterday I was talking with a friend who has 2 young children. She mentioned being at 2 different beaches over the last few weeks, Gimli on Lake Winnipeg and Pelican Lake in southwestern Manitoba. She was disappointed to see advisory notices go up at both places, cautioning about the presence of ecoli as well as an algae advisory. The friends she was with told her that it was nothing to worry about and the children could still go swimming. 

image of sign warning of water quality problems on beach

Beach advisory sign at Gimli

 

That tells me once again that we have a lot of educating to do to inform the public about the impacts of certain levels of ecoli and algae in the water. The Manitoba government  does provide regular updates about all of this, as of today there were 7 beaches, 5 on Lake Winnipeg and one at Killarney Lake and Pelican Lake that have been posted for higher than safe levels of ecoli at various times this summer. There are also 7 beaches all on Lake Winnipeg that have been posted with algae warnings. Caution should definitely be used when these advisories are  in place, particularly with children as they tend to swallow a lot of water in their play. 

 Ecoli can certainly cause significant intestinal illness and some blue-green algae contain toxins which are very threatening to the liver and other organs. Animals are particularly susceptible to illness, even death, if they ingest blue-green algae. Remember dogs tend to lick their paws and fur after being in the water which is why we’ve heard of several dogs deaths related to this. 

The bottom line is that there are good reasons why governments are now testing and posting results of water sampling at beaches. Public health is and should be of prime concern.

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