VALLEY COUNTY, Idaho — Officials with the Central District Health Department and the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality have issued a health advisory for Lake Cascade in Valley County due to the presence of a cyanobacteria harmful agal bloom.
“Recent water samples taken indicate concentrations of toxin-producing cyanobacteria are present which may be harmful to humans and animals. Those with liver or kidney damage are at an increased risk of illness,” said Central District Health Department spokeswoman Christine Myron.
When recreating near or in any surface water with a health advisory in effect, experts urge you to take the following precautions to protect both or yourself and your pets:
-Avoid swimming, wading, or other activities. Take extra precautions to ensure children, pets, and livestock are not exposed to the water.
-Do not drink or cook with water containing a bloom. Boiling and filtering the water can increase the risk.
-Wash your hands thoroughly after handling fish caught in water experiencing a bloom. Cyanotoxins can accumulate in fish and the risk to people is being researched. Any fish caught should be cleaned and washed thoroughly in uncontaminated water and any internal organs disposed of before consumption. If people choose to eat fish from this area, filet the fish and remove all of the fat, skin, and organs before cooking.
-Clean with potable water as soon as possible if water contacts skin or pet fur.
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. They can also 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.
Symptoms of cyanotoxin exposure include rashes, hives, diarrhea, vomiting, coughing, and/or wheezing, heath officials said. More severe symptoms affecting the liver and nervous system may result from ingesting water. If symptoms persist, consult your healthcare provider. If your pet has been around a harmful algal bloom and shows symptoms such as vomiting, staggering, drooling or convulsions, contact your vet immediately.
The public will be advised when water testing indicates a HAB is no longer likely to be a concern at Lake Cascade.
Currently, fourteen health advisories remain in effect for recreational water bodies throughout Idaho -– among them: Little Camas and Mountain Home Reservoirs in Elmore County, and Indian Creek and Blacks Creek Reservoirs in Ada County, all of which are located within Central District Health’s jurisdiction. Advisories for other recreational water bodies in southwest Idaho are also in effect.
(photo courtesy: Central District Health Department)