Summer heat could be to blame for the high levels of blue algae in the water, health officials said. Children, nursing and pregnant women and other with weakened immune systems are being warned to stay out of the water.

Toxic algae warning at Champaign County lake prompted by heat

A toxic algae bloom at Kiser Lake remains under a public health warning after high levels of toxins were recorded last week.

State officials have put out a recreational public health advisory for swimmers, warning at-risk people to stay out of the water.

“And that’s really for those really that are more at risk, for example children, pregnant or nursing women and then those who have medical conditions,” Champaign County Health Commissioner Jeffrey Webb said.

The state told local health officials about the increased levels of the toxic blue-green algae at the lake on Friday, Webb said.

The Ohio Department of Natural Resources will test for the algal blooms over the next few weeks to see if levels go down, spokeswoman Brooke Betit said.

Other local bodies of water are also under warnings. Grand Lake St. Mary’s in Auglaize County is under an elevated warning for similar algae bloom conditions. Everyone is advised not to be in the water there, according to ODNR’s BeachGuard website.

Indian Lake in Logan County tested for high levels of E-coli in the past week, according to the ODNR data, and is under a recreational advisory like the one at Kiser Lake.

Some campers at the lake Monday said they won’t let the algae bloom at Kiser Lake stop their plans.

“I called the marina and they said ‘not a problem,’” said Cynthia Newcomb, of Vandalia, who brought her two granddaughters to Kiser Lake for a week of camping.

“It’s not that bad at all, they’ve been in the water swimming,” she said as the girls waded in the water near their tent.

Toxin levels were reported by the state Friday at 14 parts per billion, Webb said. Any levels above 6 ppb prompts a health advisory, state health officials said.

Other lake activities, such as kayaking and boating aren’t part of the warning if boaters do not get into the water, Webb said.

“You can catch fish, you can eat it, it won’t make you sick,” he said.

Summer heat is often behind the toxic algae warnings.

“Typically (the bloom) has to do with warm temperatures,” Webb said, which could raise the excessive amounts of phosphorous or nitrogen that allows the algae to grow.

The algae count at Grand Lake St. Mary’s topped more than 170 parts per billion in early May, according to ODNR records.

Two weekly tests for the microsystin must be less than 6 parts per billion before the state will lift advisories from a body of water, Betit said.

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