CDC Launches a New Website on Harmful Algal Blooms and a New Reporting System to Monitor Associated Illnesses
Have you ever been by a lake and noticed mats of green scum on its surface? Wondered if you should let your dog drink out of that foamy water in a lake? Found yourself coughing at a beach that was experiencing a “Red Tide”? You’re not alone. Many of us have had our plans affected by algal blooms – the overgrowth of algae and cyanobacteria – on rivers, lakes, and oceans. Some blooms – harmful algal blooms or HABs -- produce toxins that can cause illness in animals and humans, contaminate our drinking water or seafood, or damage the local environment.
HABs are an emerging public health issue. In recent years, toxin-producing HABs have caused the shutdown of the water supply of a major US city, resulted in massive fish die offs, and sickened hundreds of people and animals with a variety of skin, breathing, stomach, and intestinal symptoms. Because animals are more likely to swim or drink from water that may contain a HAB, they are often the first affected when a HAB occurs. Therefore, it is very important to know what the possible health effects are before you swim, fish, or let your pets drink or play in suspicious-looking water.
To help partners and the general public learn more about HABs, CDC launched a new website. The website contains:
- Information about HABs
- Illnesses and symptoms related to being exposed to HABs
- Sources of exposures and risk factors
- Prevention and control
- HABs and the environment
Additionally, the website includes publications on HABs and a toolkit to help public health partners get the word out about the effects of HABs on human and animal health and the environment.
The One Health Harmful Algal Bloom System
To understand the frequency, severity, and health effects of HABs, CDC, along with partners, developed the One Health Harmful Algal Bloom System (OHHABS). OHHABS is a new, voluntary reporting system accessible to state and territorial public health departments and their designated environmental or animal health partners to report HAB-associated human and animal cases of illnesses, as well as environmental data about HABs. Visit the OHHABS webpage to learn more.
- Spread the word on social media using the tweets below, or create one of your own!
- Did you know algae can grow into blooms that are harmful to people, animals, & the environment? cdc.gov/habs