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DENVER (KDVR) — The warmer months have indeed arrived and now the Center for Disease Control and Prevention has reiterated a warning they’ve sent out in years passed: steer clear of algae blooms.

According to the CDC, pets, people and wildlife can all become extremely sick when exposed to harmful algae and cyanobacteria.

Bodies of water in rather heavily populated areas have previously been closed to the public when algae blooms were discovered within them, including Sloans Lake and City Park Lake in Cherry Creek State Park.

In an effort to approach the problem proactively, the CDC has consolidated information that could help you against future interactions with the potentially deadly organism.

Algae blooms, your pets, and you

According to the CDC, blue-green algae and cyanobacteria are meek plant-like organisms that reside in water and are capable of producing toxins that can make both people and their pets very sick. Additionally, the presence of this algae impacts the environment in a negative fashion and can occur in salt, fresh or brackish water.

Here’s what to look for when determining if water has algae or cyanobacteria:

  • The forming of scum on the surface
  • Foam has accrued on the surface
  • A mat-like appearance on the water’s surface
  • The water’s surface looks like it’s been painted
  • When present, it can make the water appear green, blue, red or brown

A big accelerant to algae’s growth is warmth, which the summer months produce a large amount of. A heavy presence of nitrogen or phosphorous in slow-moving water is another amplifier of algae bloom.

These interactions with an algae bloom can leave you and your pets seriously sick or dead:

  • Drinking contaminated water
  • Swimming in contaminated water
  • Eating fish, shellfish, or anything else you find in contaminated water.

Experiencing any of these can lead to accruing some severe damage to your liver and kidneys.

Animals can easily get sick within minutes due to their proclivity to drink straight from water sources. So, if your pet has been exposed to the bloom, contact a veterinarian.

If you experience any of the following symptoms after being around bodies of water, you should consult the American Association of Poison Control Center and seek medical care:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Headaches
  • Drowsiness
  • Skin, eye, throat or nose irritation
  • Muscle weakness
  • Dizziness

According to the CDC, climate change will only worsen the severity of these algae bloom’s impacts, so take caution with you next time go on a walk, whether it’s up in the high country, or just a meander around downtown Denver.