June 15, 2016

Harsha Lake under recreational public health advisory

BATAVIA, Ohio (June 15, 2016) – Harsha Lake at East Fork State Park is currently under an elevated recreational public health advisory. Citizens are urged to avoid getting in the water, due to the presence of a harmful algal bloom (HAB).

The blooms are caused by a type of blue-green algae that can produce toxins known as microcystins. These organisms are found naturally in lakes and rivers, but they become dangerous at high concentrations. When the toxins reach a level higher than 20 parts per billion, an elevated public health advisory is issued, and the water is considered hazardous. Based on a June 9 water sample conducted by the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency, levels at three locations in the lake measured more than 50 parts per billion.

Ohio has seen an increase in the number of algae blooms on lakes and rivers over the last few years. A combination of warm sunny weather and increased nutrients in the water cause the growth. The nutrients usually come from excess fertilizers from nearby areas that enter the lake and nearby streams when it rains.

During an algae bloom, the water can look blue or green, look like spilled paint, or have a thin film on top of the water, and have a bad smell. Unlike some kinds of bacteria that can be found in water sources, the HAB toxins do not have to be swallowed, to cause illness. Just touching the water with exposed skin can cause a person to get sick. If you have touched the HAB affected water, you should rinse off with clean water immediately. Pet owners are also encouraged to rinse off their pets if they have been swimming in the affected water.

Symptoms of HAB exposure include:

Anyone who has been swimming, in the lake and is experiencing any of these symptoms should call their physician.

For more information on harmful algal blooms, visit Clermont County Public Health’s website at www.ccphohio.org.

Ohio Department of Health Fact Sheet on HABs

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For more information contact Keith Robinson, communications coordinator for Clermont County Public Health at 513-732-7717 or ktrobinson@clermontcountyohio.gov

Clermont County Public Health (CCPH) is a local government agency that provides public and environmental services, nursing services and education to Clermont County residents. CCPH is dedicated to the mission of striving to improve Clermont County by preventing disease, promoting health, and protecting the environment. For more information, visit www.ccphohio.org or call 513-732-7499.