UT microbiologist says toxic blue-green algae is not in Tennessee
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — The toxic blue-green algae found in bodies of water around the world is not in East Tennessee waters, according to experts.
Steven Wilhelm, who runs a molecular ecology lab through the University of Tennessee, said there are small amounts of the blue-green algae in our open water systems, but they have not bloomed into toxic bacteria.
"It may just be a matter of time before they get to us, but right now I don't have a great concern for Tennessee waterways," Wilhelm explained.
Wilhelm has studied blue-green algae in length and how it may affect ecosystems.
"It will have a green scum on it, it looks a lot like somebody spilled green paint on the water, and that could be worth avoiding and keeping your pets out of and especially your children out of," Wilhelm explained of the odorous algae.
He said the reason the bright algal bloom isn't really in Tennessee is because our water moves and large plants grow in it.
"Our waters here are pretty productive, they grow lots of things, they're generally pretty safe," Wilhelm said.
But, that doesn't mean all water is 100 percent safe from all toxins.
"Sadly the safest way to avoid having a scary situation is to avoid swimming in those lakes during the months when it's more likely," Dr. Julie Schildt with the UT Vet School said.
She urged pet owners to always monitor their animal's behavior afterward swimming in open water.
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