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Health officials warn of potentially toxic algae at Pandapas Pond

Swimmers, pet owners urged to stay away from water

Billy Bowling - Pandapas Pond (WSLS)

MONTGOMERY COUNTY, Va. – Health officials are warning the public about potentially toxic algae at Pandapas Pond in Montgomery County.

According to VDH, this type of blue-green algae may produce a toxin that can cause rashes and other illnesses.

Officials are urging pond visitors to stay out of the water and to keep pets away. Due to low body weight, VDH said children and pets are at a greater risk of severe illness if they ingest the water. Pets can get sick from licking their wet fur.

“Harmful algae blooms,” or HABs, happen when warm water and nutrients combine to create good growing conditions for algae. The blooms can become so dense that they turn the water green or bluish-green and form scummy clumps or glops on the surface of the water that look like paint.

Officials said that certain activities such as kayaking, canoeing and fishing can go on if contact with the water is avoided.

The Dept. of Environmental Quality will do a follow-up sampling in September to check on the status of the bloom, according to Gary Coggins, the environmental health manager senior with the New River Health District.

The health department provided the following tips:

  • Never allow people or pets to drink untreated water.
  • Avoid contact with any waterbody with discolored water, water that smells bad, or has an advisory sign.
  • Keep children and pets out of advisory areas. If contact with bloom water cannot be avoided, quickly wash skin or fur with plenty of clean fresh water.
  • If you experience symptoms after swimming in or near an algal bloom, seek medical care and let the provider know about your exposure to the bloom water.

About the Author:

Samantha Smith joined WSLS 10’s award-winning digital team as a digital content producer in July 2018.