Water

Herald and News: Odell Lake Suffers From Toxic Algae Bloom

The Klamath Falls Herald and News | July 21, 2014 8 p.m. | Updated: July 22, 2014 1:16 p.m.

Contributed By:

LACEY JARRELLH&N Staff Reporter

Visitors to a Cascade Mountains lake are being asked to stay out of the water while a toxic algae warning is in effect.

A health advisory was issued Monday for a toxic algae bloom at Odell Lake after water monitoring results collected July 16 confirmed high levels of cyanotoxins, known as blue-green algae, were present in the lake. The lake is located off Highway 58 in Klamath County.

Entire lake affected

According to David Farrer, a toxicologist with the Public Health division of the Oregon Health Authority, the entire lake is under the health advisory. Farrer said the Odell Lake advisory will remain in effect until the bloom begins receding and the water is tested again.

In a news release, Oregon Public Health officials warned campers and other Odell Lake visitors that blue-green algae toxins, which are harmful to humans and animals, cannot be removed by boiling, filtering or treating the water with camp-style filters.

Farrer said children and pets are more at risk because they are more likely to drink or ingest water adults wouldn’t.

Swallowing or inhaling water droplets, as well as skin contact with water, should be avoided.

Drinking water directly from Odell Lake is especially dangerous, Farrer said.

“Find another water source,” he said.

Look for warning signs

Exposure to toxins can produce numbness, tingling and dizziness, which can lead to difficulty breathing or heart problems and require immediate medical attention, the release said. Symptoms of skin irritation, weakness, diarrhea, nausea, cramps and fainting should also receive medical attention if they persist or worsen.

Because toxins are more likely to collect in animal tissues, Oregon health officials recommend that people who eat fish from waters where algae blooms are present remove all fat, skin and organs before cooking, the release said.

Farrer said Odell is the only lake under advisory now, but not all water bodies are monitored. He said to look for visual clues of algal blooms before drinking water or getting in it.

According to the Oregon Health Authority website, algae blooms appear as thick foam or scum on the water’s surface. Blooms can be bright green, blue-green, white or brown in color, but it’s impossible to tell if an algae bloom is toxic just by looking at it.

“Our advice is: When in doubt, stay out,” Farrer said.

For health information or to report human or pet bloom-related illness, contact the Oregon Health Authority at 971-673-0400.

ljarrell@heraldandnews.com; @LMJatHandN

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