In Argentina, The Ministry of Health of the Nation calls on the population to be extremely careful when exposed to the so-called cyanobacteria, blue-green algae that release toxins in waters that are commonly used to cool off during the summer season and constitute a potential threat to environmental health and human.
Currently, the presence of cyanobacteria has been reported on the coasts of the Río de La Plata, at the height of Berisso and Ensenada; in the municipality of Tigre; in the Buenos Aires Gómez lagoon, in Junín; in Lake San Roque in the province of Córdoba; in lagoons of Santa Fe such as Juan de Garay, in Santo Tomé, and Setubal, in the capital; and in the Uruguay River at the height of the province of Entre Ríos.
With a greenish-blue hue, cyanobacteria are microorganisms that feed on the organic matter lodged in the water and carry out photosynthesis. The toxins they release can cause a wide variety of gastrointestinal, respiratory, neurological, skin, ear, and eye infections. The most common symptoms are diarrhoea, skin rashes, ear pain, cough and eye irritation.
Exposure to cyanobacteria can occur both by ingesting contaminated water and by inhaling the aerosols that these waters give off. In addition, there is also the possibility of infection if the person entering the water has any open cuts or wounds.
Boys and girls, pregnant women and people with a weakened immune system or who have a previous health problem, are the risk groups with the highest probability of infection. In these cases, it is advisable to consult a doctor before swimming in natural waters.
In addition, the Ministry of Health recommends checking if the beach is closed, is under warning for health or safety reasons, or is properly monitored and controlled, especially after heavy rain.
Droughts and low water levels, pollution due to anthropic activity, high seasonal temperatures, together with the impacts derived from climate change, are factors that contribute to the excessive blooming of this type of algae.
Stay out of the water:
-If there are signs that say the area is closed. This may be because the water is unsafe for swimming.
-If it has a different color than usual, it seems more cloudy or it smells bad. This may be a warning that there are more microorganisms in the water than normal.
-If a bright green mass similar to a paint stain or a thick brown mass is observed on the shore. This could mean there is a harmful algal bloom in the water that can cause illness.
-After an intense rain, since waste can be drained in the area that makes the water more cloudy.
-If you see pipes that drain water, especially after intense storms or rains that occur after long periods of drought.
-If you have diarrhea. The germs can make other swimmers sick if they swallow contaminated water.
-If you have a cut or open wound. In case of entry, use a waterproof bandage to cover it completely.