Green Algae: A Local Health Alert

October 1, 2012 Updated Oct 1, 2012 at 10:07 AM EDT

By WKBW News

October 1, 2012 Updated Oct 1, 2012 at 10:07 AM EDT

LAKE ERIE, NY (WKBW) - Eyewitness News is talking about this stuff, take a look at these pictures of Lake Erie in Chautauqua County. This is blue-green algae.

It's covering some shorelines, it makes fishing and boating nearly impossible, but now a new very alarming concern.

A joint investigation by ABC News and the Food and Environment Reporting Network found more than a hundred reported illnesses due to blue-green algae exposure, and it's also killing off pets.

The algae which is a a living-breathing-growing toxic organism, is not just showing up in local lakes, but is a nationwide problem. A Wisconsin man who lives on a lake infested with this stuff, refused to go into the water, but his dog did, and quickly died.

Health officials are sounding the alarm, demanding the government step in to prevent this from spreading, even during the fall months when lakes are not used as frequently.

"Otherwise these blooms are going to continue to grow. The human
health problems that we see are going to increase." Dr. Jeffrey Reutter of Ohio State University says "Essentially if we don't solve this problem, somebody's going to die."

The problem was discovered here locally this summer and closed several local beaches in the southern tier.

Environmental officials are trying to get a handle on it, and hope the colder temperatures will kill off this dangerous, and potentially deadly bacteria.

In the meantime, if you are near a lake, and notice this algae, do not come in contact with it.

Same goes for your pets. As for what's causing it. A lead researcher says fertilizer runoff from local farms maybe to blame.

The cure he says is convincing farmers to carefully fertilize so the nutrients stay on the fields and not in the water.