FREDERICTON (GNB) - A blue-green algae advisory is being issued for Nashwaak Lake.

Laboratory tests of a sample taken in the lake have confirmed the presence of blue-green algae, or cyanobacteria.

“Swimming, water-skiing, other aquatic recreation and contact with water should be avoided in areas of this lake where water is discolored or where surface scum is present,” said Dr. Na-Koshie Lamptey, Regional Medical Officer of Health. “Water from a lake should never be used for drinking or cooking without treatment. Boiling water from a lake with a bloom will not remove the toxins produced by the blue-green algae.”

Algae blooms can occur in waters when the appropriate conditions are present; this usually occurs during the summer months or early fall. While not all algae blooms are harmful to human health, blue-green algae can produce toxins. These toxins can cause skin, eye and throat irritation. If consumed, they may lead to more serious health effects such as severe gastrointestinal illness.

Young children and those with skin conditions may be particularly vulnerable to these health effects. Blue-green algae can be fatal to pets and livestock.

Fish caught from water where such blooms are present should have all their organs removed and be thoroughly rinsed with potable water before they are cooked and consumed.

“The Department of Health encourages the public to be active and enjoy the outdoors,” said Lamptey. “While outdoors, New Brunswickers are advised to be aware of the potential health risks posed by some algal blooms in lakes and other bodies of water.”

Since blooms can be unpredictable, people need to be cautious. Before entering a body of water, take note of its quality. Where a blue-green algae bloom is suspected (paint-like scum or blue, green or other discoloured water) avoid swimming, water-skiing or other recreational activities.

The departments of Health and Environment and Local Government are working together to ensure that reported or suspected blooms are evaluated and that advisories are posted where appropriate.

If you suspect that an algae bloom may be present in a lake, please report this information to the nearest Department of Environment and Local Government regional office.

More information about blue-green algae and a list of advisories currently in effect in New Brunswick is available online.