Blue-green algae advisory issued for Lac Ste. Anne days before Pope Francis visit | Canadian

Just days before a small Alberta lake community is set to be inundated with people from around the world, a health advisory has been issued for the body of water Pope Francis is set to visit.

On Thursday, Alberta Health Services issued a blue-green algae (cyanobacteria) advisory for Lac Ste. Anne.

The pope is set to visit the lake northeast of Edmonton next Tuesday, although he is not expected to enter the water.

A large pilgrimage takes place there each year.

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“We acknowledge that this lake is of high significance to many people, and we anticipate that it will be visited by large numbers of people next week as part of the Papal visit,” AHS said.

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“We are working closely with organizers of the visit to ensure that people can reduce their risk if they choose to visit the lake.”

Click to play video: 'Alberta Beach businesses busy ahead of Pope Francis’ visit'

Alberta Beach businesses busy ahead of Pope Francis’ visit

Alberta Beach businesses busy ahead of Pope Francis’ visit

The site coordinator for the papal visit told Global News earlier this week there would be wash stations available on site for Tuesday’s event.

“The health and safety of everyone attending the pilgrimage is a top priority,” Andrew Ehrkamp, the spokesperson for the Catholic Archdiocese of Edmonton, said on Thursday.

“There is no change to the schedule of the papal visit.

“The Archdiocese is working with the provincial, federal and county governments to ensure the Holy Father’s visit is a success.”

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Lac Ste. Anne is considered a sacred place for some Indigenous peoples and has become known as a place of healing.

The lake is the site of an annual pilgrimage, which had grown to about 40,000 people in 2019 — the year before it shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s to resume in person this year from July 25 to 28.

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Blue-green algae is naturally occurring and often become visible when weather conditions are calm.

Weather and wind conditions can cause algae blooms to move from one location in the lake to another. Due to this, the advisory will remain in effect for all of Lac Ste. Anne until further notice, AHS said.

Appearing like scum, grass clippings, fuzz or globs on the surface of water, the bacteria can be blue-green, greenish-brown, brown, and/or pinkish-red and often smells musty or grassy.

AHS is warning of blue-green algae advisories in place at several Alberta lakes.

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AHS says people should not drink or cook with untreated water directly from any recreational lakes in Alberta and while the advisory is active, pets should not drink from affected lakes either.

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The health authority said boiling lake water will not remove the toxins produced by blue-green algae.

People who come in contact with visible blue-green algae blooms may experience skin irritation, rash, sore throat, sore red eyes, swollen lips, fever, nausea and vomiting and/or diarrhea. AHS said symptoms usually appear within one to three hours and resolve in one to two days.

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AHS said areas of the lake in which the blue-green algae bloom is not visible can still be used for recreational purposes, even while the health advisory is in effect.

Click to play video: 'Water warning after pet dies from suspected blue-green algae exposure in Alberta'

Water warning after pet dies from suspected blue-green algae exposure in Alberta

Water warning after pet dies from suspected blue-green algae exposure in Alberta – Jul 7, 2020

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