LAKEVIEW – Hot summer weather along with reservoirs and waterways running high have created conditions for potential harmful algae blooms.
“After three relatively dry years, the runoff from this winter has washed nutrients into waterways which, when combined with sunlight and water temperatures that suspend algae near the surface, has created a fairly rare situation where algae has the opportunity to thrive,” said Lake County Livestock Extension Agent Pete Schreder.
Some species of blue-green algae, also known as cyanobacteria, have the potential to produce toxins which can result in chronic or acute human health concerns and can be lethal to pets and livestock.
“There isn’t a formal advisory, but we are seeing indicators that there may be algae blooms occurring in Lake County waters and we want to make sure our local community and visitors from outside the area are aware of the signs of a harmful algae bloom and can take steps to avoid exposure,” said Lake County Public Health Administrator Beth Hadley.
Things to look for include thick bright green, blue-green, white or brown foam or scum on the water surface.
If recreating in an area with signs of an algae bloom, it’s advised to stay out of the affected water and keep children and pets away. Filtration and boiling are not effective treatments for removing the toxins, so affected water should not be used for drinking, cooking or washing.
“Dogs are especially vulnerable to a toxic algae bloom,” Schreder said. “Not only from drinking the water and swimming, but also from licking the water off of themselves afterward.”
Fish caught in water affected by an algae bloom have unknown health risks. It is recommended that any fish caught in an algae bloom area have all of the fat, skin and organs removed prior to cooking since those tissues are most likely to collect toxins.
For more information, visit the Oregon Health Authority website at www.healthoregon.org/hab, call Lake County Public Health at 541-947-6045 or OSU Extension at 541-947-6054.