The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers have closed two Rathbun Lake beaches again as water tests revealed toxicity of blue-green algae at the lakes has risen.
The blue-green algae blooms at the lake have been an ongoing issue since the beginning of August. After it was discovered at various locations around the lake, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers closed the two beaches it manages — Island View and Buck Creek — for testing. That testing eventually showed there were toxins being released to the algae, which can be fatal to pets and dangerous to humans.
On Aug. 23 the beaches were re-opened after the algae had subsided somewhat and the amount of toxins in the water decreased. However, that has since changed, as the Corps posted on their Rathbun Lake-centered Facebook page that the Island View and Buck Creek beaches are again closed.
Microcystin is released by some species of blue-green algae and can affect the liver, according to information from the Iowa Department of Public Health. People can become sick from the toxins by contacting the bloom or wallowing water while swimming, or by breathing airborne droplets containing the toxins during boating or waterskiing.
Pets and other animals that drink from the water’s edge can be exposed to deadly levels of the toxin. Pets can also get sick by swimming in water where algal blooms have been and then licking themselves after leaving the water, according to the health department.
Symptoms of microcystin poisoning include breathing problems, upset stomach, skin reactions and liver damage. Symptoms can take hours or days to show up but normally show within a week of exposure, according to the health department.