Press Release

DORCHESTER COUNTY, MD (August 25, 2009) – The Dorchester County Health Department is advising all citizens to avoid contact with Higgin’s Mill Pond, a private pond near Linkwood, due to high concentrations of blue-green algae in the water. Lower concentrations have also been found in the nearby Transquaking River at Drawbridge Road. The advisory has been issued in conjunction with the Maryland Departments of Environment, Health and Mental Hygiene, and Natural Resources.

Microcystis aeruginosa is a naturally occurring blue-green algae in Maryland's Chesapeake Bay and fresh water tributaries. Blooms or excessive growth of blue-green algae may occur in nutrient rich waters and may become harmful when they occur in high concentrations and produce toxins. Blooms of blue-green algae are often identified by the observation of bright green waters, sometimes with a surface scum that resembles green paint. If swallowed, water containing these toxins can affect the liver, digestive system, and nervous system. Symptoms can include abdominal cramps, nausea, diarrhea, and vomiting.

The Dorchester County Health Department advises individuals who may be contemplating water contact activities such as water-skiing, swimming, etc. to avoid these areas and to take the following precautions if algae blooms are noted elsewhere:

  • Do not swim in areas where a bloom of blue-green algae is evident.
  • Do not drink water from an area with the appearance of a blue-green algal bloom. Toxins cannot be removed by boiling, filtering or treating the water.
  • If contact is unavoidable, simply wash off with fresh water as soon as possible.
  • If any skin irritation persists or any of the above symptoms develop, see a physician or healthcare provider.
  • Keep pets and livestock away from bloom areas. Ingestion of toxins can be fatal to animals. Questions regarding any suspected symptoms in your animals should be directed to your veterinarian.

While there is no known risk from eating fillets (muscle tissue) of healthy fish caught in bloom-affected waters, people should not eat internal organs (viscera) of fish caught in blue-green algae bloom waters as toxins may concentrate within these areas.

A fact sheet on algae blooms may be found on the Maryland Department of Natural Resources website at

To report a fish kill or a fish health-related event, call the Bay Health Hotline at (877) 224-4229, 24 hours a day.

Questions about health effects from contact with blue-green algae should be directed to the Dorchester County Health Department at (410)-228-1167, or the Harmful Algae Blooms program at (866) 703-3266.