Perth District Health Unit and Southwestern Public Health are advising people that a bloom of blue-green algae has been detected in Wildwood Reservoir at Wildwood Conservation Area. Blue-green algae can produce toxins which may be harmful to health through direct contact or consumption.
The Health Units advise that the Wildwood Reservoir is unsafe for swimming. Until further notice, residents and visitors should take the following precautions:
Avoid swimming or other activities that involve direct contact with the water in Wildwood Reservoir (note that children are more vulnerable to the toxins produced by the algae than adults).
Do not allow pets to swim in or drink from the water.
Thoroughly wash any area of exposure with clean water and soap, in case of accidental exposure to the water.
Do not eat fish caught in Wildwood Reservoir.
While the blue-green algae may not show the presence of toxins, there is always a risk that toxins could be produced. Toxins may stay in the water for up to three weeks after the algae bloom is gone. Drinking water supplies from wells in the area have not been affected by this algae bloom as blooms are not a concern for groundwater drinking supplies.
The severity of symptoms and the level of risk to health depend on how you are exposed to blue-green algae toxins. Human health effects may include:
Itchy, irritated eyes and skin from direct contact through activities such as swimming, and;
Flu-like symptoms such as headache, fever, diarrhea, abdominal pain, nausea and vomiting, if large quantities of the toxin are swallowed.
Both Health Units are working with staff from the Upper Thames River Conservation Authority and the Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Parks (MECP) to monitor the water at Wildwood Reservoir.
For more information:
Visit the Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Parks.
Perth County residents can call the Perth District Health Unit’s Health Line at 519-271-7600 or toll-free at 1-877-271-7348 extension 267.
Oxford County residents can call Southwestern Public Health at 519-421-9901 or toll-free at 1-800-922-0096.