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Harmful algal bloom advisory for Portage Lake, Portage Canal and Torch Lake

 Algal bloom in the Houghton Canal in summer 2020. (Joel Carpenter Photo, the property owner who filed complaint with EGLE regarding the algal bloom)
Algal bloom in the Houghton Canal in summer 2020. (Joel Carpenter Photo, the property owner who filed complaint with EGLE regarding the algal bloom) (WLUC)
Published: Jun. 30, 2020 at 10:45 PM EDT
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The Western Upper Peninsula Health Department (WUPHD), working in conjunction with the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS), and the Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy (EGLE), issued a Cyanobacteria harmful algal bloom (HAB) recreational public health advisory Tuesday for Portage Lake, Portage Canal and Torch Lake in Houghton County.

People and pets should avoid direct body contact and avoid swallowing water in areas where these HABs are present.

HABs look like spilled paint, pea soup, floating scum, mats, green sheens, clumps or streaks.

Swimming, wading and water activities that create spray are not recommended in the areas where this is visible present. Do not let dogs drink affected water. Monitor children and pets closely to ensure they do not eat or play with algae on the shoreline.

If people and dogs enter the affected water, rinse them off and monitor for illness.

The algal bloom will be tested for Anatoxin-a; this is one of the algal toxins that HABs can produce. These toxins can make people and animals sick when swallowed or breathed in, or may cause skin irritations such rashes and hives. Dogs are especially at risk of developing health effects.

This toxin has been associated with dog deaths in other lakes. The testing results will not be available until after the Fourth of July weekend.

If people may have had contact with or swallowed affected water and feel sick, they should consult with their doctor or Poison Control at 800-222-1222.

If symptoms are severe, people should get emergency medical attention. If animals become sick after contact with lake water, contact your veterinarian immediately.

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