Blue - Green Algae at Saylorville Lake

Published Aug. 6, 2015

Johnston, Iowa - Sandpiper and Oak Grove Beaches at Saylorville Lake have been closed in response to the presence of a blue-green algae bloom which has the potential to impact the health of humans and their pets.   Routine water quality monitoring performed at the lake has identified high levels of microcystin, a compound produced by blue-green algae under certain environmental conditions.  Water containing high concentrations of microcystin can cause illness through direct skin contact, by ingesting the water, or by breathing airborne droplets of the water.  Microcystin poisoning can cause skin reactions, gastrointestinal pain, breathing problems or even liver damage.


 Typical symptoms of microcystin poisoning include:

* Skin rash, hives or blisters (particularly on the lips and under swimsuits)

* Gastrointestinal problems such as stomach pain, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea

* Headache and fever

* Runny eyes and nose, cough, sore throat, chest pain, asthma-like symptoms or allergic reactions 


Pets and other animals that drink from the water’s edge, where concentrated algal blooms commonly occur, may be exposed to deadly levels of microcystin.

Precautions to be taken to prevent health-related problems due to harmful algal blooms include: avoid swimming, wading, water skiing or boating in areas where the water is covered with scum, is bright green or blue in color, or has a bad odor.  If you come in contact with water where a blue-green algae bloom has formed, wash off with fresh water and soap and contact your health care provider if you experience any symptoms.


For additional information on harmful algal blooms, visit the Iowa Department of Public Health web site at

Brian Nail
(515) 276-4656

Release no. 15-049