SUDBURY -- A harmful algae bloom (cyanobacteria), also known as blue-green algae, has been found in Tucker Lake, the North Bay Parry Sound District Health Unit has announced.

"Species of the algae capable of producing toxins were confirmed by the laboratory of the Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks," the health unit said in a news release. "The toxins in harmful algae can irritate the skin and, if swallowed, cause diarrhea and vomiting."

Cyanobacteria – also called harmful algae, blue-green algae or ‘pond scum’ – are not really algae, but tiny bacteria.

Residents of Tucker Lake in Parry Sound, Seguin Township, may be affected depending on their closeness to the algae bloom, the size of the lake, wind direction, water flow, and other environmental conditions that cannot be predicted or controlled.

"Due to the many factors involved, government authorities are unable to determine where and when there are no toxins," the release said. "Users are advised to exercise their judgment before using the water."

For more details on the location of the algae bloom, and sampling process, contact the Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks at 1-800-268-6060.

If you live near where a bloom was detected or where a bloom is visible, follow these safety measures:

• Do not use the water. This includes drinking, cooking, bathing, and brushing teeth. Note: Using a private water system or boiling the water will not destroy the toxins.

• Do not swim and avoid water sports when a bloom is present.

• If skin contact does occur, wash with soap and water then rinse thoroughly with clean water to remove algae.

• Limit the amount of fish flesh you eat. Some toxins can build up in fish and shellfish. Do not eat the liver, kidneys and other organs. Be careful not to cut the organs when filleting.

• The health unit has not closed the beaches, but rather advises individuals they need to take caution in the area.

You can find out more about harmful algae at the health unit's website or by calling 1-800-563-2808, ext. 5400.