VALLEY COUNTY, Idaho — Rough news for people looking to have some fun around Lake Cascade. People, pets and livestock should avoid the water after the Department of Environmental Quality and Central District Health issued an advisory because of a Harmful Algal Bloom (HAB).
Algae grows when high levels of fertilizers are present in warm water and as it dies, toxic chemicals are released that can kill animals and make people sick. Those with live or kidney damage are at an increased risk of illness.
Cyanobacteria are a natural part of Idaho’s water bodies. When temperatures rise, their populations can bloom and toxic chemical compounds, or cyanotoxins, can be released into the water. Blooms can vary in appearance, and may look like mats, foam, spilled paint, or surface scum and have a foul odor.
While blooms can be discovered in one area of recreational water, they can move around to different areas, water depths and can change in severity. HABs are most common in the summer months through the fall.
Fish caught in the lake should be thoroughly cleaned and only the filet should be eaten. You should also not drink or cook with water containing a bloom. Central District Health says boiling and filtering the water can increase the risk.
Symptoms of cyanotoxin exposure include rashes, hives, diarrhea, vomiting, coughing and/or wheezing. More severe symptoms affecting the liver and nervous system may result from ingesting the water.
Wash your pet with clean water and shampoo if it has been around a harmful algal bloom. If it shows symptoms such as vomiting, staggering, drooling or convulsions, contact your vet immediately.