OAKWOOD, Ill. (WCIA) — People living near the Salt Fork River say blue-green algae is a growing problem in the river. They say they started noticing the intense green color on Thursday. They also saw a lot of dead fish popping up along the shoreline.
We reached out to the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency. They said that, while algae is common, this type could be harmful. They came out on Friday to collect water samples. The initial results were inconclusive, so they sent more samples out for testing. Karla Andrew and her family family live by Salt For River. She says her family members noticed the algae and have decided to stop fishing in the river.
“What they’re concerned about is eating the fish because of what has killed them because the catfish are usually extremely hard to kill and this has killed the catfish, and so it’s probably something that might be toxic, so she’s concerned that it might be toxic to her also, and you might not want to ingest that,” said Andrew.
The IEPA is also talking to a Conservation Officer with the Department of Natural Resources about the amount of dead fish along the river. The results of the water testing should be available tomorrow. They say no one should have contact with water that has toxic algae in it.
The best way to know you’re being exposed is the smell. The algae has a fishy or septic odor. If you’re exposed to it, you should wash with soap and clean water to remove the algae.
The IEPA and Department of Public Health are warning about the harm algae could do to pets. The algae is linked to the recent deaths of dogs. Dogs that swim in it can show symptoms of distress and nausea in less than 30 minutes. A couple from North Carolina lost their three dogs to algae poisoning at a lake last Friday.