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WARNING: Check for algae blooms before swimming

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QUINCY (WGEM) -- Illinois state health officials want you to look out for algae blooms before going for a swim this summer.

John Wood Community College Assistant Natural Sciences Professor Kelly Larson said blue-green algae growth increases around this time of year.

Larson said it's found most in lakes, streams, and ponds and can be harmful to you, your pets and livestock.

"If you don't want to get in, you probably shouldn't have your pet in there either. If you don't want to drink the water, you shouldn't let your pet or livestock drink the water," Larson said.

She said water that is contaminated with this algae-like bacteria will look like spilled paint. There might be a blue-green glob under the surface, or might be blue-green crust around the banks.

"Symptoms would include anything from eye irritation, skin rash, respiratory symptoms. It could lead to what we call atypical pneumonia if you inhale some," Larson said.

Larson said not all forms of this algae are harmful, but you should contact your healthcare provider or call the Illinois Poison Center at 1 (800) 222-1222 if any symptoms develop after you swim.

Charity Bell

Multimedia Journalist at WGEM

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