Hurricane Preparedness and Your Pet

When you are making a plan and building your kit, be sure to include your pets and plan for their safety during an emergency.

Make a plan for your pet.

  • Find out ahead of time if public shelters and hotels in your area accept pets. Most American Red Cross shelters cannot accept pets, but service animals that assist people with disabilities are allowed.
  • Assign a family member to be responsible for your pet’s needs in an emergency. Talk with your neighbors, family and friends about taking care of your pets or getting them to safety if your family is not able to.
  • Get your pet microchipped and have copies of vaccine records with your current address and phone number. Include an emergency contact such as a relative of friend outside your local area. Include a copy of your pet’s registration information.
  •  Take a photo of yourself with your pet to help you prove ownership and identify your pet in case you are separated. Keep contact information of your local animal control office and shelters in case they find your pet.
  • Include your pets in family evacuation drills to make sure they get used to calmly getting into a crate or carrier.

Build a kit for your pet that includes the following:

  • Food and water: Include food and water for several days in your kit. Make sure the food container is airtight and waterproof. Don’t forget bowls.
  • Medicine: Keep extra medicine that your pet takes regularly. Keep it in an airtight container.
  • First aid supplies: Have items on hand that are specific to your pet’s needs. 
  • Collar, ID tag, leash or harness: Keep a backup collar and leash in your kit along with an ID tag that has current contact information.
  • Crate or carrier: Have a separate carrier for each pet, if possible.
  • Grooming items: Put shampoo and other items you use to clean your pet into your kit.
  • Sanitation items: Pet waste bags, litter and a litter box are items to include in your kit.
  • Comfort items: Toys, treats and bedding that help your pet feel more comfortable and help reduce stress are a good idea to include in your kit.

Large animals and livestock:

  • Large animals: Consider evacuating large animals and move them sooner rather than later.
  • If possible, move livestock to higher ground. If you use a horse trailer, move the animals as soon as possible.  
  • Make sure you have a second route mapped out in case your original route is blocked or backed up.
  • Make sure the place you plan to take your animals has food, water, veterinary care and equipment to handle the animals.
  • If you cannot evacuate the animals, you must decide whether to move them to a barn or turn them loose outside.

For additional information on how to care for pets and other animals during and after a storm, visit the following sites:
American Humane
American Red Cross 


VDH Urges Caution In Advance of Severe Weather

RICHMOND, VA — The remnants of Tropical Storm Ian are expected to impact areas of the state beginning Friday, September 30 through the weekend. This storm could create dangerous conditions in creeks, rivers, and low lying areas along the coast. The Virginia Department of Health (VDH) reminds people to take precautions to be prepared for severe weather and once the sun comes out, be aware of potential health risks before you participate in recreational water activities.

“I encourage everyone, especially those with travel plans, to pay close attention to storm updates, plan appropriately, and take proper precautions as the storm arrives,” said State Health Commissioner Colin M. Greene, MD, MPH. “Be safe; stay safe.”

Heavy rains can increase the risk of animal waste and the potential release of inadequately treated wastewater from sewage treatment plants. Bacteria, debris, and other pollutants in rainwater runoff end up in rivers, lakes and streams, which can pose risks to human health and safety. Rain events also cause flooding and fast-moving waters, especially in low-lying areas.

The most common illnesses from contaminated water are gastrointestinal illnesses. These illnesses may cause vomiting, diarrhea, nausea, abdominal pain or fever and are a result from swallowing water contaminated by disease-causing microbiological organisms. Additionally, contact with contaminated water has the potential to cause upper respiratory (ear, nose, throat) and skin infections.

VDH recommends avoiding swimming in fast-moving water as there is a drowning risk. Boaters, kayakers, canoeists, etc. face an elevated risk in high waters and should not try to navigate in fast-moving waters.

VDH recommends the following safety tips for people planning to swim, wade, kayak, canoe or go rafting in Virginia natural waters after heavy rains:

  • Everyone should wear a life vest at all times on the water.
  • Avoid getting water in your mouth. Never swallow water from an untreated water source.
  • Don’t swim if you have broken skin. Bacteria, viruses and other organisms can infect wounds causing more serious illness.
  • Shower with soap and water after recreating in natural waters.
  • Don’t swim when you are ill.
  • Avoid swimming if dead fish are present.
  • Use extreme caution and avoid unnecessary risks if you encounter covered roads or fast-moving waters. The water may be deeper and moving faster than you think.

Residents or facilities that provide water to the public including campgrounds, restaurants, or daycares with private wells or septic systems submerged by flood waters should also take extra precautions.

For more information and safety tips regarding private wells and septic systems visit

To contact your local health department, visit or call 877-ASK-VDH3 (1-877-275-8343).

To contact your local health department, visit

For more information regarding recreation water safety tips, including the Virginia Department of Health’s “Safely Enjoy Virginia’s Natural Waters” brochure, visit:

World Rabies Day, September 28, 2022

Rabies is a virus that is commonly found in Virginia’s wildlife, especially in certain wild animals such as raccoons, skunks and foxes.  It’s important to remember though that any mammal can get rabies and so it’s important to take some basic precautions to help protect you and your pets from being infected.  Remember to protect yourself and your pets from rabies exposures by following these simple steps:

  • Have your veterinarian vaccinate your dogs, cats, ferrets, and selected livestock. Remember to keep their vaccinations up-to-date.
  • Contact your local health department or animal control authorities if your pet is attacked or bitten by a wild animal.  Depending on the situation, keep in mind that your pet may need a rabies booster vaccination and be restricted to your property for a period of time after the wildlife exposure. 
  • Wash animal bite wounds thoroughly and report the bite to your local health department.  
  • Limit the possibility of exposure to rabies by keeping your animals on your property. Don’t let pets roam free.
  • Keep garbage or pet food inside. Leaving garbage or food outside may attract wild or stray animals.
  • Enjoy all wild animals from a distance, even if they seem friendly, and NEVER keep wild animals as pets. A rabid animal sometimes acts tame. If you see an animal acting strangely, especially if rabies exposures may have occurred, report it to your local animal control department and do not approach it.
  • Contact the Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources to find a licensed wildlife rehabilitator for guidance if you think a wild animal needs help. DO NOT take matters into your own hands. 
  • Bring stray domestic animals, especially if they appear ill or injured, to the attention of local animal control authorities. If you think a stray animal needs help, contact your local animal control office for guidance.

VDH Further Expands Eligibility for Those Seeking Monkeypox Vaccination

Today, the Virginia Department of Health (VDH) announced a further expansion of eligibility for JYNNEOS, the monkeypox vaccine. Newly eligible for vaccination in Virginia are persons of any gender or sexual orientation living with HIV/AIDS or who have been diagnosed with a sexually transmitted infection in the past three months.

“VDH is taking this step to expand eligibility for the JYNNEOS monkeypox vaccine to ensure as many people at high risk of contracting this disease who want to get vaccinated can do so if they choose,” said State Health Commissioner Colin M. Greene, MD, MPH. “Maximizing effectiveness of prevention and treatment against monkeypox now is our best chance to keep it from becoming entrenched in the United States.”

In Virginia, as of Monday, September 26, there were 464 cases of monkeypox, 249 of those Northern Health Region consisting of the Alexandria, Arlington, Fairfax, Loudoun and Prince William Health Districts. Across the state, 21 cases have required hospitalization.

The newly expanded eligibility criteria for vaccination now include additional populations in Virginia. Those who meet one or more of the following are eligible to receive the monkeypox vaccine:

  • Any person, of any sexual orientation or gender, who have had anonymous or multiple (more than one) sexual partners in the past two weeks; or
  • Sex workers of any sexual orientation or gender; or
  • Staff, of any sexual orientation or gender, at establishments or events where sexual activity occurs; or
  • Any person, of any sexual orientation or gender, who is living with HIV/AIDS; or
  • Any person, of any sexual orientation or gender, diagnosed with any sexually transmitted infection in the past three months.

Virginia has received a limited supply of JYNNEOS vaccine. If you are eligible, visit your local health district website to learn about how you can access the vaccine. You may use this locator tool to determine which local health district you reside in.

As of September 26, VDH has overseen administration of 9,860 first doses of the two-dose JYNNEOS series and 4,948 second doses.

Monkeypox is a contagious rash illness caused by the monkeypox virus. In most cases, it resolves without treatment. It is spread by close contact with an infected person. Close contact includes touching skin lesions, bodily fluids, or clothing or linens that have been in contact with an infected person. Spread can also occur during prolonged, face-to-face contact.

While anyone, regardless of gender identity or sexual orientation, can catch monkeypox if they have close contact with someone with monkeypox, many of those affected in the current global outbreak are gay, bisexual, or men who have sex with men. While this level of monkeypox activity is unexpected, the risk to the general population is low. People with monkeypox in the current outbreak generally report having close, sustained contact with other people who have monkeypox.

The highest risk activity currently is having sex with multiple or anonymous partners; avoiding these activities greatly reduces one’s risk of catching or spreading monkeypox. Monkeypox does not spread from person to person from walking past someone who is infected or through casual conversation with someone who is infected. Because we are still learning about the vaccine’s effectiveness in the current outbreak, vaccinated individuals should continue to take steps to protect themselves from infection.

Initial symptoms of the disease often include flu-like symptoms, such as fever, headache, muscle aches, and swollen lymph nodes, followed by skin lesions. However, some people have a rash without other symptoms. Although the majority of cases don’t require hospitalization, the rash can be painful. If you have a rash that resembles monkeypox, talk to your healthcare provider about whether you need to get tested. Treatment is available for those at risk of severe illness.

For the latest information about monkeypox from VDH, visit our monkeypox information webpage:

Prescriptions: Prepare Your Medicine Cabinet for an Emergency

Many people depend on daily medications. Nearly half of Americans take at least one prescription medication; 1 in 4 take three or more. A large-scale natural disaster, such as a hurricane, or other emergency could make it difficult to find an open pharmacy let alone get a prescription filled. You and your family may need to rely on a prepared emergency supply. If, for example, you or a loved one rely on daily medication to treat or manage a chronic disease, it is in your best interest to prepare your medicine cabinet for an emergency. Here’s how:

  • Keep at least a 7 to 10-day supply of prescription medications. Keep your medications in labeled, childproof containers.
  • Keep an up-to-date list of all prescription medications, including dosage amounts and the names of their generic equivalents, your medical supply needs, and known allergies.
  • Create a supply of nonprescription medications, including pain and fever relievers, diuretics, antihistamines, and antidiarrheal medications.
  • Don’t let the medications in your emergency supply kit expire. Remove, use, and replace any food and water, medications, and supplies before they expire.

Safe storage

In the wrong hands, medicines are dangerous. Too often, the wrong hands belong to kids. About 60,000 children are taken to emergency rooms each year because they got into medicines.The threat of medication poisoning in kids and adults is also there in an emergency evacuation when families are forced from their homes and into a shelter, a hotel, or the home of a friend or family. Under stressful circumstances and in unfamiliar surroundings, people can forget to practice safe medication use and storage. Here are three ways you can prepare for and prevent medication poisoning after a disaster.

  • Keep all prescription medications and over-the-counter medicines and vitamins, including your emergency supply, Up and Away and out of the reach and sight of children and pets—this includes medicines in suitcases, purses, and “grab and go” bags.
  • Create an Emergency Action Plan that includes important contact information, such as phone numbers for your physician, pediatrician, pharmacist, veterinarian, and the Poison Control Center: 800-222-1222.
  • Properly dispose of unused, expired, or contaminated medicines in your medicine cabinet and emergency supply. Discard medications that touched floodwater or have changed in appearance or smell. Contact a pharmacist or healthcare provider if you are unsure about a drug’s safety.

Quick Tips

  • Find out if laws in your state permit pharmacists to dispense a 30-day refill of medications in an emergency.
  • Stay current on your immunizations and vaccinations for infections and illnesses such as tetanus and seasonal flu. Know the date of your last tetanus shot in case of injury in an emergency.
  • Learn more about the Emergency Prescription Assistance Program (EPAP)
  • The EPAP helps people who live in a federally-declared disaster area and do not have health insurance. Eligible people can receive a free 30-day supply of their medications for as long as EPAP is active. People can also use the program to receive vaccinations or to replace specific medical supplies or some forms of medical equipment that were lost or damaged because of an emergency or while evacuating.

For more Prepare Your Health information, tips, and checklists, visit

Prescriptions: Prepare Your Medicine Cabinet for an Emergency

Additional Resources
Podcast   Preparing for Hurricanes – Prescription Medications 
Complete Care Plan for Loved Ones
Asthma Action Plan
Food Allergies and Disasters
Care for Special Need Children and Youth in an Emergency
Advance Directives for Behavioral Health Individuals

Healthy Aging Month: Aging Is Not for Sissies

“Getting old isn’t for the faint of heart.” – Mae West 

It can be easy to lose sight of the adventure and joy involved in the journey of aging. The process of getting older – while a seemingly endless barrel of jokes for birthday card companies – is packed with experiences that empower deeper reflection, pursuit of personal hobbies, and broadened perspective. 

As of 2020, 21.6% of Virginians were at least 60 years old, and this percentage is expected to reach 24% by 2030. It’s more important than ever to share empowering resources that support this growing population as they age into the lives they’ve worked diligently to build. While successful aging will look slightly different for each individual, the general idea is to age in such a way that enables well-being in older age. This tactic requires purposeful decisions about how to treat one’s body, mind, time, and so on. In celebration of Healthy Aging Month, the following tips and resources are good reminders on how to live life to its fullest.

The “3 F’s” Rule: Fitness, Food, Fun


Taking note of the foods we eat and how they interact with our changing bodies is a great step towards healthy aging. For extra energy, increase the number of servings of fresh fruits and vegetables in your diet. Whole grains are a better choice than processed carbohydrates, for adding fiber and vitamins to your meals. For the best protein options, choose lean meat, nuts, or beans.

A chart displaying foods and drinks that may represent a healthy diet for older adults.

It’s no secret that the body’s nutritional needs change over time. In addition to making healthy food choices, it’s important to know the best steps to take to satisfy hunger and cravings.

  • When you feel hungry, reach for some water first and sip slowly while you consider what you’ve eaten so far today. Thirst and hunger are deeply intertwined and can often be confused for one another. Still hungry after some slow sips? Time to find a snack! 
  • Notice you crave a sweet treat after a savory meal? Ask yourself if you really want something more or just expect it out of habit. Remember, everything in moderation, and even dessert does not need to be eliminated. Just take note of whether your body has room for something else. If you are truly hungry, consider if there are alternatives that may satisfy without pushing you into that “overfull” state (i.e. red grapes, a ginger chew, or a cup of herbal/fruity tea). 


While physical activity is important during all stages of life it becomes even more so with age. Exercise conditions the body’s cardiovascular system, supports digestion, and maintains muscular strength for daily tasks (like dressing, walking, cooking, etc.).

Health research has traditionally focused on the physical benefits of exercising on aging; however, more recently, public health and medicine have delved deeper into the psychological, body-brain connection impacted by exercise. The mental health benefits of consistent exercise include stress management, improved sleep quality, and an increased sense of well-being. If you haven’t found a physical activity that you enjoy and can continue over time, now’s your chance to start exploring. From indoor swimming (available all year round) to plogging – a combination of jogging and picking up litter – there are a plethora of ways to get moving in ways you find fun. You may even consider physical activities that can be incorporated into daily life, such as walking or biking to work, gardening, or even adding in some dance steps while doing house chores.


Keeping the body healthy is certainly well worth the effort, but the impact of social connection and activities for the brain are just as important. Choose activities that challenge the mind such as learning new dance steps, playing a new game (card, board, or recreational), or picking up a new hobby. Community and social engagement, through friendships, partnerships, community service or participation in local organizations, is another important aspect to consider when looking to maintain optimal mental and physical function throughout life. Finding ways to incorporate engagement with the world around you, play, and novelty (i.e. learning something new) into each day pays dividends. Not only does cognitive engagement fend off diseases like dementia and Alzheimer’s, it also increases interest in life, and decreases loneliness as well as depression.

All Together Now

Keep in mind the 3 “F’s” work together. It can be even more beneficial to find interesting ways to combine them. For example, walk to work with a pal while sharing something new you learned this week; or see if some ingredients can be substituted with healthier options while trying a new recipe or cooking technique.

At the end of the day, remember that healthy aging is about well-being. Keep the “3 F’s” Rule in mind and surround yourself with things that create happiness, growth, and fulfillment in your life. Until next Health Aging Month, be well.


Musich S, Wang SS, Kraemer S, Hawkins K, Wicker E. Purpose in Life and Positive Health Outcomes Among Older Adults. Popul Health Manag. 2018 Apr;21(2):139-147. doi: 10.1089/pop.2017.0063. Epub 2017 Jul 5. PMID: 28677991; PMCID: PMC5906725.

Wong RY. A New Strategic Approach to Successful Aging and Healthy Aging. Geriatrics (Basel). 2018 Nov 29;3(4):86. doi: 10.3390/geriatrics3040086. PMID: 31011121; PMCID: PMC6371117.

Halaweh H, Dahlin-Ivanoff S, Svantesson U, Willén C. Perspectives of Older Adults on Aging Well: A Focus Group Study. J Aging Res. 2018 Nov 4;2018:9858252. doi: 10.1155/2018/9858252. PMID: 30533224; PMCID: PMC6247475.

Senior Planning Services. Remodeling the Food Pyramid for Seniors. Retrieved July 23, 2022 

Senior Lifestyles. 7 Best Exercises for Seniors (and a Few to Avoid!). Retrieved July 14, 2022

Parker-Pope, A. How to Age Well. New York Times. Retrieved July 7, 2022

Tips for Building an Emergency Preparedness Kit

To assemble your kit, store items in airtight plastic bags and put your entire disaster supplies kit in one or two easy-to-carry containers such as plastic bins or a duffel bag.

A basic emergency supply kit could include the following recommended items:

  • Water (one gallon per person per day for several days, for drinking and sanitation)
  • Food (at least a several-day supply of non-perishable food)
  • Battery-powered or hand crank radio and a NOAA Weather Radio with tone alert
  • First aid kit
  • Flashlight
  • Extra batteries
  • Whistle (to signal for help)
  • Moist towelettes, garbage bags, and plastic ties (for personal sanitation)
  • Manual can opener (for food)
  • Local maps
  • Cell phone with chargers and a backup battery or charged power pack

Additional Emergency Supplies

Consider adding the following items to your emergency supply kit based on your individual needs:

  • Masks (for everyone ages 2 and above), soap, hand sanitizer, disinfecting wipes to disinfect surfaces
  • Prescription medications
  • Non-prescription medications such as pain relievers, anti-diarrhea medication, antacids, or laxatives
  • Prescription eyeglasses and contact lens solution
  • Infant formula, bottles, diapers, wipes, and diaper rash cream


  • Pet food and extra water for your pet
  • A selfie with them in case you get separated.
  • Medicine & grooming items.
  • Collar with an ID & a leash.


  • Cash 
  • Important family documents such as copies of insurance policies, identification, and bank account records – saved electronically or printed and stored in a waterproof, portable container
  • Sleeping bag or warm blanket for each person
  • Complete change of clothing appropriate for your climate, sturdy shoes
  • Fire extinguisher
  • Matches in a waterproof container
  • Feminine supplies and personal hygiene items
  • Mess kits, paper cups, plates, paper towels, and plastic utensils
  • Paper and pencil
  • Books, games, puzzles, or other activities for children

Emergency Kit for the Car

In case you are stranded, keep an emergency supply kit in your car with these automobile extras:

  • Jumper cables
  • Flares or reflective triangle
  • Ice scraper
  • Car cell phone charger
  • Blanket
  • Map
  • Cat litter or sand (for better tire traction)
  • Non-perishable food for each person
  • Battery

Remember to maintain an emergency kit:

  • Keep canned food in a cool, dry place.
  • Store boxed food in tightly closed plastic or metal containers.
  • Replace expired items as needed.
  • Re-think your needs every year and update your kit as your family’s needs change.


Additional Resources

Emergency Kit Checklist

National Preparedness Month

National Preparedness Month is recognized every September to raise awareness about ways to prepare for emergencies and disasters, either natural or man-made. The 2022 theme, A Lasting Legacy, focuses on the importance of protecting every life by preparing for disasters. Ultimately, these efforts will help us create and preserve a long-lasting legacy.

Keeping this theme in mind, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) recommends four key steps to prepare for and respond to disasters.

  1. Make a plan. 
    • Discuss a shelter plan
    • Have a specified evacuation route
      • Hurricanes are very common in Coastal Virginia, so it’s important to know your evacuation zone if you reside in a high-risk area
    • Decide on how members of the household will best communicate with one another 
    • Prepare an an emergency preparedness kit that includes
      • Water (for drinking and sanitation)
      • Non-perishable food
      • Battery-powered or hand crank radio
      • Flashlight
      • First aid kit
      • Extra batteries
  2. Consider specific needs within your household, such as:
    • Certain ages may require special considerations, such as specified food for infants or necessary medication for elderly family members
    • Dietary restrictions or needs may require certain lower sodium foods or gluten-free items
    • Disabled individuals may require a wheelchair, a cane, or other assistive devices
    • Identify any language barriers that may exist
    • Be cognizant of religious values or beliefs
    • Supplies will be needed for pets or services animals
  3. Fill out a family emergency plan or use it as a guide to creating your own. 
  4. Practice your plan with your friends, family, or household. 

For more information about creating a plan, visit

The CDC also recommends planning ahead by staying…

  • Healthy: Know how to protect your safety and wellness.
  • Connected: Discuss ways to communicate with family, friends, and caregivers.
  • Calm: Practice ways to stay cool, calm, and collected during emergency situations.
  • Informed: Find reliable sources of health and emergency information.

Once you finish planning, it’s time to take action. Make sure to remember your…

  • Personal needs: Gather enough food, water, and medical supplies to last at least three days.
  • Prescriptions: Talk to your doctor about creating an emergency supply of prescription and necessary over-the-counter medications
  • Practical skills: Learn self-help and life-saving skills to use during an emergency.
  • Power sources: Prepare for power outages with backup power sources.
  • Paperwork: Collect and protect important documents and medical records.


Sources and Resources:

Harmful Algae Bloom Advisory Expanded for Lake Anna

Harmful Algae Bloom Advisory Expanded for Lake Anna to north of Route 208;
In Orange, Louisa and Spotsylvania Counties

Public Advised to Avoid Water Contact with Upper, Middle and Lower sections of Lake Anna above Rt. 208

RICHMOND, Va. – All portions of Pamunkey Branch, North Anna Branch, Lake Anna State Park Beach, as well as the Main Branch of Lake Anna from the “Splits” to the confluence of Pigeon Run above Route 208 in Orange, Louisa and Spotsylvania counties are experiencing a harmful algae bloom (HAB). The public is advised to avoid contact with specific areas of the lake until algae concentrations return to acceptable levels.

Some harmful algae, called cyanobacteria, can cause skin rash and gastrointestinal illnesses, such as upset stomach, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. The area to avoid can be seen on an interactive Harmful Algal Bloom map. A status report containing the updated advisory areas may be viewed at Lake Anna HAB Status Report 8.8.22.

Samples results from collections on August 2 indicated that at eight locations in the North Anna, Pamunkey Branches, and at Lake Anna State Park, swimming advisories are necessary due to unsafe levels of cyanobacteria, which have the potential to produce toxins. People and pets are advised to avoid swimming, windsurfing and stand-up-paddle-boarding, as well as other activities that pose a risk of ingesting water. Activities such as boating may continue with proper precaution in advisory areas. Follow-up monitoring above Route. 208 on the lake is planned (weather permitting) for the first week of September.

Swimming advisories have been issued for the following areas of the lake:

Pamunkey Branch (contains changes from prior advisory, “Lower” added)

  • Upper – From the upper inundated waters of the Pamunkey arm of the lake downstream to the confluence with Terry’s Run
  • Middle – From the confluence of Terry’s Run with Pamunkey Creek downstream to Rt. 612 (Stubbs Bridge)
  • Terrys Run – from the upper inundated waters of the lake downstream to the confluence with Pamunkey Creek
  • NEW – Lower from the Rt 612 (Stubbs Bridge) downstream to near the confluence with North Anna (at the “Splits”), including the Lake Anna State Park Beach”

North Anna Branch (contains changes from prior advisory, “Lower” added)

  • Upper – From the upper inundated waters of the North Anna arm of the lake downstream to the Rt. 522 Bridge
  • Middle – From the Rt. 522 Bridge downstream to the Lumsden Flats/Rose Valley Cove
  • NEW – Lower from the Lumsden Flats/Rose Valley cove downstream to just before the confluence with Pamunkey Branch (at the “Splits”)

Lake Anna (Main Branch)

  • NEW – Upper from the confluence with the North Anna Branch & Pamunkey Branch (at the “Splits”) downstream to above the confluence with Pigeon Run (tributary along State Park)

Algae blooms can occur when warm water and nutrients combine to make conditions favorable for algae growth. Most algae species are harmless, however, some species may produce irritating compounds or toxins. Avoid discolored water or scums that are green or bluish-green because they are more likely to contain toxins.

To prevent illness, people should:

  • Avoid contact with any area of the lake where water is green or an advisory sign is posted, WHEN IN DOUBT, STAY OUT!
  • Not allow children or pets to drink from natural bodies of water.
  • Keep children and pets out of the areas experiencing a harmful algae bloom and quickly wash them off with plenty of fresh, clean water after coming into contact with algae scum or bloom water.
  • Seek medical/veterinarian care if you or your animals experience symptoms after swimming in or near an algal bloom.
  • Properly clean fish by removing skin and discarding all internal organs, and cooking fish to the proper temperature to ensure fish filets are safe to eat.
  • Contact the Harmful Algal Bloom Hotline at 1-888-238-6154 if you suspect you experienced health-related effects following exposure to a bloom. Please do not call this number for map or status updates.
  • Visit to learn more about harmful algae blooms or to report an algae bloom or fish kill.

The Virginia Department of Health (VDH) and the Virginia Harmful Algal Bloom Task Force, which includes the VDH, the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality, and the Old Dominion University Phytoplankton Laboratory, will continue to monitor water quality in the lake. In general, advisories will be lifted following two consecutive test results with acceptable levels for algal cell counts and toxin concentrations. An advisory may be lifted or maintained at the discretion of the health department. For example, after one test an advisory may be lifted if results are within safe levels for swimming if other information indicates exposure or human health risk is low.

For more information visit