News - McHenry County

Algae blooms reported on Fox River

Residents should report blooms to Illinois EPA, official said

It is typical to see algae blooms in the Fox River this time of year, but McHenry County swimmers are reminded to stay out of it when they do.

Residents also should report algae blooms, when found, to the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency, officials said.

There is even a mobile app to report possible Harmful Algae Blooms to the state.

The Fox River Waterway agency has gotten several calls from residents about algae in the river in the past few days, an official there said. The agency doesn’t test the water, but they do help health officials inform residents of the dangers of some algae blooms.

“We have had an increase of concerns regarding algae blooms. They are typical for this time of year,” the agency said in a emailed statement.

The McHenry County Department of Public Health reminds people they should not swim in blue-green algae, and they should shower themselves off if they come in contact with it.

“Avoid going into water when it looks discolored or if there is a film or scum-like coat on the water’s surface. Not only is blue-green algae unsafe for people, but it’s unsafe for animals, too. Anyone who is in McHenry County and thinks they’ve found blue-algae can report to it the Environmental Protection Agency,” said Lindsey Salvatelli, community information coordinator for the county health department.

When an algal bloom producing toxins – most commonly cyanobacteria – is found, local officials are asked to post signage to warn residents to avoid contact with the affected waters, according to the state’s Department of Public Health.

Not all blooms are reported to state officials. Residents are advised to avoid contact with water that looks like spilled blue-green paint, has a blue-green crust at the shoreline, is discolored with or has green streaks or has greenish globs suspended in the water below the surface.

If swimmers or pets do come in contact with cyanobacteria they should shower and contact their doctor or veterinarian if symptoms occur, according to information from the Lake County Department of Public Health.

Children, the elderly and those with compromised immune systems are at higher risk, according to the state health department.

Exposure symptoms include rashes, hives, diarrhea, vomiting, coughing or wheezing. More severe symptoms may result from longer or greater amounts of exposure. Anyone who experiences symptoms as a result of exposure to algal toxins should contact their health care provider or call the Illinois Poison Center at 1-800-222-1222.