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RALEIGH – As temperatures continue to soar, the North Carolina Department of Health is urging residents to use recreational waters safely and be aware of potential health risks, including harmful algal blooms. Certain infections also occur more frequently in the summer, such as primary amoebic meningoencephalitis, vibriosis and cryptosporidiosis.

“Our goal is to help North Carolinians reduce their health risks while still having fun in the water,” said Dr. Kelly Kimple, deputy director of the NCDHHS Division of Public Health. “By following certain guidelines, we can minimize illness caused by harmful algae, bacteria and other risks, ensuring a healthier experience for everyone.”

To ensure a safe and enjoyable summer for you and your pets, the NCDHHS recommends the following guidelines for recreational waters:

  • Detecting harmful algal blooms: Algal blooms can produce toxins that are harmful to people and pets. They often appear as a thick, green, blue-green, or red foam on the water surface or along the shoreline. Avoid contact with water and keep your pets away from these areas. To report an algal bloom, contact your nearest DEQ regional office or submit a report online.
  • Avoid suspicious water conditions: Be cautious if the water is discolored, has a strong odor, or contains visible residue. Such conditions may indicate poor water quality or possible bacterial contamination.
  • Stay up to date with water quality alerts: Be aware of recreational water quality advisories or warnings issued by local authorities. These advisories may include warnings about harmful algal blooms or bacterial contamination.
  • Prevent ingestion: Avoid swallowing water. Reduce your risk of illness by keeping your mouth and nose closed or using a nose clip when swimming, especially when jumping or diving into warm freshwater lakes, rivers, and hot springs. Carry fresh drinking water for your pets and keep them hydrated during your water activities to prevent them from drinking or swallowing water while swimming.
  • Rinse after water activities: After swimming, rinse yourself and your pets with clean, fresh water to remove any bacteria, algae or toxins that may be clinging to their skin or fur. This simple step can minimize health risks from waterborne contaminants.
  • If you have an open wound, avoid salt or brackish water: Cover your wound with a waterproof dressing if it may come into contact with coastal waters or raw seafood, its drops or juice. Wash wounds immediately after contact with these items.
  • Watch for symptoms: Be aware of any symptoms you or your pets experience after water activities, such as skin irritation, gastrointestinal problems, breathing problems, or unusual behavior. If you or your pets experience any concerning symptoms, seek medical attention immediately.

For more information and additional resources on water safety, visit www.cdc.gov/healthy-swimming/about/index.html. Additional summer safety tips can also be found on the NCDHHS Division of Public Health website at www.dph.ncdhhs.gov/blog/2023/05/25/summer-safety-tips-grilling-and-swimming and www.dph.ncdhhs.gov/blog/2023/06/28/beat-heat-7-tips-staying-cool.







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