Health officials warn of harmful algae spreading in Lake Pontchartrain
NEW ORLEANS - The Department of Health is advising people to avoid making contact with a rapidly growing algae spotted on Lake Pontchartrain.
The department says the algae is going through a rapid period of growth on the water's surface, known as an algal bloom. The algae often appears blue, bright green, brown or red and can have a strong odor like rotting plants.
Health officials say the algae can be harmful to people who come into contact with it, causing rashes, stomach cramps, nausea, diarrhea and vomiting. High exposures of toxins associated with the algae can potentially affect the liver and nervous system.
Anyone exposed should wash with soap and water.
The algae can also find its way into fishes' organs, meaning fishermen are advised not to harvest or eat fish in parts of the lake affected by the algae.