August 26, 2019
Tiffany Carter, Public Information Officer, 804-862-8951(o), 804-704-7554(c), firstname.lastname@example.org
Tara Rose, Alternate Public Information Officer, 804-862-7612, email@example.com
(Petersburg, Va.) – The Virginia Department of Health has issued a health advisory for Wilcox Lake at Lee Memorial Park due to a bloom of potentially harmful algae.
People and pets should observe the swimming advisory which is in place for Wilcox Lake and avoid swimming, wading or bathing in the area. This includes windsurfing and stand-up-paddle-boarding; any activities which pose a risk of skin contact or accidentally ingesting the water.
Samples taken last week showed algae concentrations were at unsafe levels. VDH requires two consecutive safe samples in order to lift a health advisory. Samples will be collected every other week to monitor the bloom.
Wilcox Lake is 22-acres in size and features a boat ramp and beach recreational area. Signs have been posted at the shoreline in affected areas. The signs read, in part: “WARNING: Harmful Algae Present. People and animals should avoid swimming and wading until further notice. Exposure to algal toxins may cause illness. While fish consumption is not affected, thoroughly cleaning the fish, discarding the carcass and guts, and washing hands and surfaces afterward with soapy water is advised.”
The advisory at Wilcox Lake is illustrated on an interactive map at www.SwimHealthyVA.com.
Some harmful algae, called cyanobacteria, can cause skin rash and gastrointestinal illnesses, such as upset stomach, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. Everyone should take the following steps to prevent illness:
- Avoid contact with any area of the lake where water is green or an advisory sign is posted. WHEN IN DOUBT, STAY OUT!
- Do not allow people or pets to drink from natural bodies of water.
- Keep people and pets out of the areas experiencing a harmful algae bloom. Wash off with plenty of fresh, clean water after coming into contact with algae scum or bloom water.
- If you or your animals experience symptoms after swimming in or near an algal bloom, seek medical/veterinarian care.
- To ensure fish fillets are safe to eat, properly clean fish by removing skin and discarding all internal organs, and cooking fish to the proper temperature.
- If you suspect you experienced health-related effects following exposure to a bloom, contact the Virginia Harmful Algal Bloom Hotline at 1-888-238-6154.
- To learn more about harmful algae blooms or to report an algae bloom or fish kill visit SwimHealthyVA.com.
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 blueish-green because they are more likely to contain toxins.
The Virginia Department of Health and the Virginia Harmful Algal Bloom Task Force, which includes the Virginia Department of Health, Virginia Department of Environmental Quality and the Old Dominion Phytoplankton Lab monitor water quality in the lake.
Generally, health advisories may be lifted after two consecutive test results showing acceptable levels for algae and toxins. Advisories also may be lifted or maintained at the discretion of the health department, if other information indicates the risk of exposure or adverse health effects are low.
For more information visit www.SwimHealthyVA.com or call the Crater Health District at 804-863-1652.