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USM's Ike Levine warns of potentially-lethal blue-green algae in Maine lakes

Ike Levine, courtesy NewsCenter Maine

Blue-green algal blooms spotting up across the nation — including a number of Maine lakes — may be of concern to pets, to some extent, humans, according to University of Southern Maine (USM) Professor Ira "Ike" Levine.

"These algae are ubiquitous, they're everywhere," Levine, who teaches in Natural and Applied Sciences USM’s Lewiston-Auburn College, told Portland-based NewsCenter Maine.

The algae, known as cyanobacteria, contains deadly toxins, said Levine, who is also president of The Algae Foundation. In humans, contact with the algae can cause a rash, fever or sickness and, for pets and some humans, it can be fatal.

The algae is not as prevalent in Maine as warmer climates, such as North Carolina, where several dogs have reportedly died after coming in contact with it.

"You can get contact dermatitis, all the way up to death," Levine said. "Algae can be your best friend but unfortunately they can also cause quite a bit of illness."

But, Levine says there isn’t reason to panic. He recommends safety collecting a water sample if you feel you’ve come across an algal bloom.

"I don't think it's something truly to be concerned, vigilant yes, but I wouldn't not go in the water of what's happening in North Carolina." Levine said.

Watch the full segment below: