The Indiana Department of Environmental Management posted updated information Friday that eight lakes have high counts of blue-green algae.
The update was accompanied by the general warning for everyone seeking recreational fun at lakes and reservoirs, as the potentially toxic plant – a type of cyanobacteria – can be found in nearly any body of water.
While IDEM tests 13 state-owned or state-managed lakes regularly, residents living around other lakes and bodies of water are on their own to determine whether the algae is present.
Its forms vary, and theres no easy test you can buy to detect whether its in the water.
A lab would have to test a sample, and while IDEM doesnt do that commercially, the agency provides a list on its website of certified laboratories that do.
I encourage people to ask about costs up front, IDEM spokesman Barry Sneed said. It can be expensive.
According to the Indiana Department of Natural Resources, the algae is most commonly found in shallow water or coves and bays where water movement is limited.
IDEM says blue-green algae can appear very green or even reddish or brown. Sometimes it appears as scum atop the water.
Sneed said that sometimes, murky water is an indicator of the algaes presence – but not always.
Theres not a telltale sign if you see it, he said.
In humans, the algaes toxins – which can be spread by wind – can cause skin rashes, eye irritation, stomachaches and nausea as well as tingling in the fingers and toes. If someone experiences such symptoms after a swim, a doctor should be notified.
Exposure to the algae can cause death to small animals and is suspected to have led to the deaths of two dogs and liver problems in two others after they swam in the Salamonie Reservoir earlier this month.
Salamonie did not show dangerous levels of the algae in the latest round of IDEM tests, though.
Animals showing symptoms of being sick after swimming should be brought to a veterinarian.
People who spot what may be blue-green algae are urged to avoid contact with it, according to government officials.
While blooms of the algae began appearing in 2001, the toxins have caused problems in recent years, with drought conditions exacerbating the problem this year.
DNR officials previously have said Hoosiers can help reduce blue-green algae blooms by choosing phosphorus-free fertilizer, limiting the use of fertilizer around waterways and regularly maintaining septic systems.