BLUE-GREEN ALGAE – LAKE LOWELL

Public Health Advisory

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

In cooperation with the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) and Deer Flat National Wildlife Refuge, Southwest District Health (SWDH) is issuing a health advisory for Lake Lowell. Recent samples taken from the lake indicate that toxin-producing cyanobacteria, also called blue-green algae, are present and may cause illness to humans and animals.

Cyanobacteria occur naturally, but high concentrations of blue-green algae can form a bloom under the right conditions, such as high levels of nutrients. Under certain conditions, some types of cyanobacteria can release toxins into the water that are harmful to people, pets, and livestock. The blooms are generally green, or blue-green, and may form thick mats along shorelines. These may look like a surface scum resembling pea soup and can have an unpleasant odor.

SWDH, DEQ and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service advise the following precautions be taken at Lake Lowell while the bloom is known to be present:

  • Humans, pets, and livestock should not drink the reservoir water.
  • Humans and animals should stay out of the reservoir. Swimming, wading, or other activities with full body contact of reservoir water should be avoided.
  • Fish should be cleaned and rinsed with clean water. Only the fillet portion should be consumed. All other parts should be discarded.
  • Pets and livestock should stay out of water where blooms are visible. Pets and livestock can be exposed through drinking, swimming, or self-grooming by licking their wet coat or paws. A reaction will likely require immediate veterinary attention.
  • Do not allow pets to eat dried algae.
  • If reservoir water contacts skin or pet fur, wash with clean potable water as soon as possible.
  • Areas of visible algae accumulation should be avoided.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, people who are exposed to water with high concentrations of cyanobacteria may experience nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, difficulty breathing, skin irritation, allergic responses, liver damage, or neurotoxic reactions such as tingling fingers and toes. Symptoms in humans are rare, but anyone with symptoms should seek medical attention. Boiling or filtering the water will not remove the toxins.

Lake Lowell is part of the Deer Flat National Wildlife Refuge, which is managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

For more information about harmful algal blooms, visit DEQ’s website at http://www.deq.idaho.gov/water-quality/surface-water/recreation-health-advisories/

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Chase Cusack, DEQ
Chase.Cusack@deq.idaho.gov
208.373-0490

Katrina Williams, SWDH
Katrina.Williams@phd3.idaho.gov
208.455.5317 (office)
208.899.1268 (cell)

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