Health officials have issued a public advisory warning of harmful algae blooms that have been identified at Alcova and Pathfinder Reservoirs, according to the Casper-Natrona County Health Department.

That agency, along with the Wyoming Department of Health and  the Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality, have issued the advisories due to higher than normal levels of cyanobacteria, also known as harmful algae blooms, according to a release on their Facebook Page. 

Officials say the blooms can produce poisons called cyanotoxins and may be associated with other irritants that can cause health concerns in humans, as well as pets and livestock. Those effects can include rashes, itching, numbness, nausea, fatigue, disorientation, abdominal pain, vomiting, and diarrhea.

Here's more from the Casper-Natrona County Health Department:

"Harmful algal blooms (HABs) are dense concentrations of cyanobacteria or blue-green algae that pose a risk to human, pet, and livestock health. Under normal conditions, cyanobacteria are present at low levels and play an important role in aquatic ecosystems. When HABs occur, cyanobacteria become visibly abundant and can look like grass clippings, bluish-green scum or spilled paint on the water surface. Highly visible algae blooms are not unusual occurrences in still waters this time of year, especially when water temperatures have been high."

Health officials say bodies of water that are under an advisory are not closed, but they recommend the following:

  • 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 chlorination 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.
  •  If people, pets, and/or livestock come into contact with a bloom, rinse off with clean water as soon as possible.

If you or your pets get sick after using the water, you should call your doctor, veterinarian or the Wyoming Poison Control Center at 1-800-222-1222. For both humans and animals, the young, pregnant, and those with weakened immune systems are at higher risk.

You can find more information about the health effects of harmful algal blooms at the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s website at: https://www.cdc.gov/habs/.