The City of St. Albert is asking residents to avoid walking near the Riel Recreation Park after blue-green algae was discovered growing in the flood plain of the Sturgeon River.
Blue-green algae is a bacteria that can produce harmful toxins to people and animals. This can cause skin, eye and throat irritation, and more serious health effects including gastrointestinal illness.
Warmer water temperatures, high nutrient levels and other factors can cause these algae blooms to grow. Blooms look like scum, grass clippings, fuzz or globs on the surface of water, with a blue-green colour and musty or grassy smell.
In a statement on Saturday, the city said the bacteria is toxic and to keep children, dogs and other pets away.
"The city is monitoring the situation but unfortunately cannot remove it. Please use alternate routes," the statement read.
People who come in contact with blue-green algae may experience skin irritation, rash, sore throat, sore red eyes, swollen lips, fever, nausea, vomiting or diarrhea, according to Alberta Health Services (AHS). Symptoms usually appear within one to three hours, and can resolve in one to two days.
Exposure to the bacteria may be fatal to pets. Animals aren’t concerned about how the water looks or smells, so it's important to keep them away and not let them eat any fish or fish trimmings from the affected water source.
AHS recommends avoiding all contact with blue-green algae blooms. Do not swim or wade in any areas where the blooms are visible. If contact occurs, wash with tap water as soon as possible. If symptoms develop, call Health Link Alberta at 811.
In terms of canoeing or kayaking in that area, people should take precautions not to splash or ingest the water, and avoid physical contact when launching their craft.
More to come.