If swallowed, blue-green algae can cause flu-like symptoms in people, while it can be fatal to small pets like dogs.
Brian McManus, with the Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality, says the algae grows best after extended periods of hot weather.
McManus says the health warnings that are put on confirmed lakes last for at least two weeks after the first toxic reading.
“We like to get two consecutive weeks of low readings before we take the alert off,” he says.
The health alert bans swimming in lakes that have high levels of the toxin, but boating and fishing activities can still continue.
Eating fish caught in the lake does not pose any health risk, but handling the fish should be done carefully.
Dozens of public recreational lakes statewide are being tested weekly or bi-weekly for toxic blue-green algae and E. coli bacteria from May through September.
“If you’re at a lake that isn’t part of our network and you’re wondering about it, blue-green algae looks like thick, green paint, basically,” he says.
Two lakes in the state have high E. coli bacteria levels, but health alerts have not been issued for Cunningham Lake in Douglas County and Holmes Lake in Lancaster County.
More information and a list of sampling results with blue green algae warnings can be found at the department’s website.
By Jerry Oster, WNAX, Yankton