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Health officials warn of harmful blue-green algae in Laurel Lake

A file photo of Laurel Lake.

A file photo of Laurel Lake. Credit: Randee Daddona

Suffolk health officials warned residents who might be enjoying the scenery at Laurel Lake on the North Fork not to touch or swim in the water Saturday, a day with high humidity.

SUNY Stony Brook’s recent sampling of the water at the lake, in Laurel, confirmed the presence of “a new cyanobacteria bloom, more commonly known as blue-green algae,” read a statement from the Suffolk County Department of Health Services. “Due to these findings, health officials ask residents not to use or swim or wade in these waters and to keep their pets and children away from the area.”

Cyanobacteria blooms can harm people, animals or the environment, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website.

The CDC states that some cyanobacteria blooms can contain toxins that are “among the most powerful natural poisons known. They can make people, their pets, and other animals sick.”

Suffolk health officials said to seek medical attention if “any of the following symptoms occur after contact: nausea, vomiting or diarrhea; skin, eye or throat irritation; or allergic reactions or breathing difficulties.”

The CDC urges people and their pets who come in contact with the water to rinse off with fresh water as soon as possible.

Suffolk County regularly tops the state's counties in the number of bodies of water where there are cyanobacteria, which often appears in the summer, said Stony Brook professor Chris Gobler, a biologist, in an interview last year

So far this year, there have been 16 cases of harmful algae blooms in ponds and lakes across Suffolk County, including nine reported in the last two weeks alone, according to data by the state Department of Environmental Conservation.

None have been reported in Nassau County as of Saturday, according to the data.

The Suffolk County health department asks residents to report suspected blue-green algae to the department's office of ecology at 631-852-5760 or by email at scdhsweb@suffolkcountyny.gov.

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