OHIO VALLEY — The public health advisory for blue-green algae blooms on the Ohio River has been lifted this week, according to Mason County Health Department Administrator/Nurse Director Diana Riddle.
Riddle said the department received notification from the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources (WVDHHR), Bureau for Public Health that the latest water specimens were below the threshold levels.
The advisory was issued on Sept. 4. It warned both the public and public water systems about the risk for possible harmful algae blooms on the river. People were asked not to swim, water ski or boat in areas where the water was discolored, or where foam, scum or mats of algae could be seen on the water surface.
Exposure to blue-green algae and its toxins can cause many health effects, according to the WVDHHR. Swallowing the water can cause nausea, diarrhea, vomiting, hepatitis, jaundice, fever and loss of appetite, among others. Skin contact symptoms include allergic dermatitis, rash, itching, blisters, and conjunctivitis. Inhaling the toxins can cause upper respiratory irritation, such as wheezing, coughing, chest tightness and shortness of breath.
Riddle said the health department had erected several warning signs along the Ohio River in Mason County, where people would normally enter the water. The sites included boat docks and campgrounds, as well as other areas. She stated the last of those signs were scheduled to be removed Wednesday afternoon.
Water sampling results can be viewed online at www.dhhr.wv.gov/bph.
Mindy Kearns is a freelance writer for Ohio Valley Publishing who lives in Mason County.