The Natrona County Health Department, as well as the Wyoming Department of Health and the Wyoming Department of Environmental Control have issued advisories for both Pathfinder Reservoir and the Bishop Point Campground area because of 'higher than normal' levels of cyanobacteria, also known as harmful algae blooms.

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A statement from the Casper- Natrona County Health Department said that harmful cyanobacterial blooms (HCB's) pose a risk to humans, pets, and livestock.

Under normal conditions, when HCBs are present at low levels, they play an important role in the ecosystems of aquatic life. The statement notes that cyanobacteria becomes visibly abundant and resembles grass clippings, blue-green scum, or spilled paint on the water service.

The release states that high visible algae blooms are not unusual occurrences in water at this time of the year, especially given the recent high temperatures, but that cyanobacteria blooms can produce poisons. These poisions are called cyanotoxins and they may result ins rashes, fatigue, itching, numbness, nausea, disorientation, abdominal pain, vomiting, diarrhea, and more.

The health departments in Natrona County and Wyoming offer the following recommendations:

  • Avoid contact with water in the vicinity of the algae bloom, especially in areas where blue-green algae are dense and form scums.
  • Do not drink or consume the water. Boiling, filtration, and/or cholorination will not remove toxins and will not make the water safe for drinking.
  • Caution should be taken when eating fish, as health effects remain unknown. Rinse fish with clean water and only eat the fillet portion.
  • Do not breathe water spray in areas of the bloom.
  • Keep pets and livestock away from the water. Do not allow animals to drink the water, eat dried algae, or groom themselves after contact with the water.
  • In people, pets, and/or livestock come into contact with a bloom, rinse off with clean water as soon as possible.

The Casper-Natrona Health Department states that if a person is experiencing adverse health effects after exposure to an algae bloom, they should seek immediate medical attention. Young children, pregnant women, and people with weak immune systems are especially at risk, as animals with those same classifications.

For more information about the health effects of harmful algal blooms, you can visit the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s website.

For more information about harmful algal blooms and what is being done in Wyoming about harmful algal blooms, you can visit the Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality’s website.

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