All Mississippi Beaches Close Due To Toxic Algae Bloom

The blue-green algae, actually a bacteria called cyanobacteria, grows on the surface of water and can cause rashes, stomach cramps, nausea, diarrhea and vomiting in humans. The effects are even more serious for other animals, and infection can turn fatal within hours or days, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Health officials warn against swimming, wading or fishing in the water until further notice. The sand portions of the beaches remain open.

Harmful algal blooms, or HABs, have been reported in every U.S. coastal state, though less than 1% of algal blooms produce toxins. Still, HABs can be harmful to the environment in other ways, including depleting water of oxygen and sunlight, according to the National Ocean Service.

The current Mississippi bloom is linked to freshwater entering the gulf shoreline through the Bonnet Carre spillway. The spillway has been opened twice this year to relieve flooding along the Mississippi River following an extremely wet winter, the Clarion-Ledger reported.

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