State warns of toxic algae near Arrowhead Beach


By Jon Hawley
Staff Writer

Wednesday, July 24, 2019

EDENTON — The public should stay away from a toxic algal bloom along the Chowan River near Arrowhead Beach, state health officials warned Tuesday.

The bloom has higher-than-acceptable levels of a toxin called microcystin, the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services reported in a press release. The state has not received any reports of people getting sick from the bloom as of yet, the release also notes.

Microcystin is produced by microbes called cyanobacteria, and children and dogs are most vulnerable to those toxins, according to DHHS’ website.

Algal blooms are a long-running problem in the Chowan River and neighboring bodies of water. Earlier this month, the state warned residents to avoid blooms dotting the Chowan, Little, Perquimans and Pasquotank rivers, as well as the Albemarle Sound.

The release states that environmental officials have monitored blooms in the Chowan River since May, and Department of Environmental Quality Division of Water Resources staff checked on the bloom near Arrowhead Beach last week.

Test results also showed the bloom is producing microcystin at levels that make a “high risk” for acute health effects, based on guidance from the World Health Organization.

In addition to keeping children and pets away from discolored, bright green or blue water, the release recommends:

• Avoiding handling, cooking or eating fish around the affected areas;

• Washing anyone or any pet that comes into contact with affected waters; and

• If children or pets appear ill or stumble after contact with affected waters, seek medical care for them immediately.