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Health officials warn of harmful algae blooms in Pathfinder Reservoir

A blue-green algae bloom at Pathfinder Reservoir in 2018. (Wyoming DEQ)

CASPER, Wyo. — The Casper-Natrona County Health Department, the Wyoming Department of Health, and the Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality have issued advisories for Pathfinder Reservoir ‘s Bishop Point Campground Area for higher than normal levels of cyanobacteria, also known as harmful algae blooms (HBCs).

According to a press release from the C/NCHD, HBCs “are dense concentrations of cyanobacteria or blue-green algae that pose risks to human, pet and livestock health.”

The HBCs are normally present in low levels and are part of the aquatic ecosystems, but can overproduce and create grass-like clippings and bluish-green scum on the water surface, and are harmful to animals and humans.

The outbreak is in part caused by warm waters, said the release.

They can produce poisons causing numerous harmful effects, such as “rashes, itching, numbness, nausea, fatigue, disorientation, abdominal pain, vomiting, and diarrhea,” said the C/NCHD.

Boiling or filtering the water will not remove the toxins, so it’s recommended that people and pets avoid contact.

Eating fish caught in contaminated water should be done so with extreme caution, and only the cleaned fillet portion of the fish should be eaten.

People experiencing health effects after contact with the contaminated water should seek medical help immediately, said the release, adding that young children, pregnant women, and people with weakened immune systems are particularly at risk.

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