Toxic blue green algae found across Fermanagh

THE PUBLIC is being urged to avoid the water at a number of local beauty spots, after potentially toxic blue green algae has been confirmed at four different local locations.
Back in June six dogs died after coming into contact with a substance on the shores of Lough Melvin. Tests confirmed blue green algae had been present in the water at the time, and it is believed this was the cause of the tragic deaths.
Last week Fermanagh and Omagh Council said it had received confirmation from the Northern Ireland Environment Agency (NIEA) that blue green algae has been found in Lower Lough Erne, in the vicinity of Castle Archdale.
Then, in an update at the weekend, the Council announced the dangerous algae had also been confirmed at Muckross Bay, Kesh, Carrickduff on Upper Lough McNean, and on the shoreline at Rushin House, on Upper Lough McNean at Belcoo.
The Council has urged the public to keep animals away from the waters there and, with reports of tourists falling ill after swimming in at Castle Archdale, it is also recommended humans should avoid entering the lough at the popular forest.
“Blue green algae is a naturally occurring organism which can be found in loughs, rivers and ponds and is most prevalent between May to September due to increased temperatures and sunlight,” explained a Council spokesman.
“When in bloom it can produce toxins which pose a health risk to humans and animals, therefore, it is recommended that you avoid contact with the affected water and shoreline and ensure pets and animals are also kept away.
“Blue green algae can bloom very quickly, therefore, residents and visitors are advised to exercise caution around waterways during periods of warm weather and bright sunlight.”
The Council has put up signs to alert visitors and locals to the presence of the organism, and urging them to exercise caution.
“The Council would continue to advise residents and visitors to be aware of the potential presence of blue green algae in any waterway in the district during periods of warm weather due to the potential risk to the health of humans and animals,” the spokesman continued.
“It is recommended that if you suspect there to be a presence you avoid contact with the water and the adjacent shoreline and report the issue to the Environmental Health Service and via the Bloomin’ Algae App which is free to download from the AppStore or Google Play.”
An Antrim family told the BBC they became ill after swimming at Castle Archdale while holidaying in Fermanagh.
One developed a kidney infection while another ended up with a sinus and ear infection after water skiing in Lower Lough Erne recently.
While it is not known if this was connected to the presence of the algae, the family said they had noticed the substance while in the water but didn’t realise its danger.
Blue green algae has also been found during previous summers at the Crom Estate and Lough Acrussel near Tamlaght.

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