Kansas City, KS – Blue-green algae look much like other, more common algae but they’re really a type of bacteria called “cyanobacteria.” And this cyanobacteria, when in high concentrations, can cause illness in both people and pets. That’s why each year, the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks (KDWP), Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE), U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) and the Bureau of Reclamation (BOR) work jointly to alert the public about potentially harmful algae blooms.

The process begins when KDHE is alerted to a potential algae bloom. Staff will deploy to the waterbody in question, conduct the necessary tests and determine next steps. Depending on either the presence of certain toxins, the number of cyanobacteria cells in the water or a combination of the two, KDHE may then issue a Public Health “Watch” or Public Health “Warning.”

But outdoor enthusiasts can protect themselves, and their loved ones – including pets – by remaining vigilant for the signs of a Harmful Algal Bloom before a watch or warning is ever issued.

Here’s what you should know:

For more information on blue-green algal blooms in Kansas, visit www.kdheks.gov/algae-illness.

For an interactive map of current Harmful Algal Bloom Watches and Warnings in Kansas, visit the KDHE website, https://maps.kdhe.state.ks.us/habkscounty/.