Alberta Health Services has issued a health advisory for Bear Lake due to the presence of blue-green algae.
AHS explains blue-green algae blooms, or cyanobacteria, are naturally occurring. In freshwater, they look like vibrant, stringy green globs and often smell musty or grassy.
Residents are being advised to avoid skin contact with the bacteria, as well as not to swim in areas of the lake where it is visible. Whole fish and fish trimmings from the lake should also not be fed to pets at this time, however, people may still consume fish fillets gathered from the lake.
People are also warned that water from the lake should also not be used to drink, even after boiling. AHS notes there may be residual toxins produced by certain species of the bacteria that will not be removed through boiling.
Skin contact with cyanobacteria is said to cause irritation or a rash. Consuming water containing could also cause a sore throat, swollen lips, fever, nausea, diarrhea, or vomiting. AHS says symptoms typically appear within a few hours and will dissipate after a few days.