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DHS news release

July 29, 2004

Contact: Bonnie Widerburg (503) 731-4180
Technical contacts: Ken Kauffman, DHS (503) 731-4012; Roland Giller U.S. Forest Service, (541) 383-5653

Algae toxin advisory continues for Odell Lake

A health advisory prompted by algae toxins found in Odell Lake, 12 miles west of Crescent, remains in effect, according to public health officials in the Oregon Department of Human Services (DHS), the Deschutes National Forest, and the Klamath County Health Department. The advisory was issued earlier this month.

Water sampling by the U.S. Forest Service has confirmed the presence of a species of blue-green algae (Anabaena flos-aquae) having the ability to produce toxins harmful to humans and animals, according to Ken Kauffman, environmental specialist in DHS.

Kauffman said that tests showed the algae levels are improving, but are still above those that might be associated with dangerous toxin concentrations in the water.

Kauffman advises that until further notice from DHS, skin contact with water should be avoided. He said contact with these waters may be harmful to your health, anhd that swallowing or inhaling droplets of water are especially to be avoided. People and pets are advised to avoid swimming, wading, water skiing and other contact with these waters.

Symptoms of exposure generally develop quickly and can include numbness, tingling, dizziness and even paralysis – leading to difficulty breathing and cardiac arrhythmia, Kauffman said. Other symptoms may include skin irritation, weakness, diarrhea, nausea, cramps, and fainting. All these symptoms require immediate medical attention. Your children and your pets are particularly susceptible.

Continued monitoring of these waters will be conducted by the U.S. Forest Service. The public will be advised when the concern no longer exists.

For local information contact the Crescent Ranger District at (541) 433-3200. For health-related information contact Ken Kauffman, DHS environmental health specialist at (503) 731-4012, or Marilynn Sutherland, Klamath County Health Department, at (800) 378-4127.