Health & Medicine

Kentucky officials warn of toxin in Ohio River, tributaries

People near the Ohio River and its tributaries are being warned about a toxin release from blooming algae.

The Kentucky Division of Water and the state Department for Public Health issued the recreational advisory for the Ohio River area from Meldahl Dam to the West Virginia state line, according to a news release from the state Energy and Environment Cabinet.

The advisory also included the tributary confluences of Little Sandy River, Tygarts Creek, Kinniconick Creek and Salt Lick Creek.

If swallowed, water with the toxin could cause stomach pain, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea, according to the release. Contact with the toxin also can cause irritation of the eyes, throat and skin. Breathing difficulties could occur, according to the release.

The toxin has not been detected in treated drinking water from the river, and water treatment plants are addressing the toxin's presence.

The division of water will continue to monitor the water, raw and treated, for the toxin throughout the algae bloom.

People should avoid water with an unusual color or where the blue-green algae has been identified, the news release said. This includes swimming, paddling, diving and water skiing.

Anyone who is prone to respiratory allergies or asthma should avoid the areas included in the advisory, according to the news release.

If contact is made with the algae or water containing it, the division recommends washing off with fresh water, according to the release.

Filets from any fish caught in the affected area can be eaten if they've been rinsed in clean fresh water, according to the release.

Pets and livestock should be kept from coming in contact with the water, according to the release.