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DHS news release

Sept. 3, 2004

Contact: Bonnie Widerburg, (503) 731-4180

Technical contacts: Ken Kauffman, DHS (503)-731-4012; Dan Peddycord, Deschutes Co. Health Department (541) 322-7426


Health advisory: algae bloom at Paulina Lake in Deschutes County

A severe blue-green algae bloom at Paulina Lake in Newberry Crater south of Bend prompted officials to issue a health advisory today. The advisory is issued by the Oregon Department of Human Services (DHS) and Deschutes County Health Department, in cooperation with the U.S. Forest Service.


Scientists have identified high concentrations of Anabaena flos aquae in the lake, according to Ken Kauffman, DHS environmental health specialist.


"Algae cell counts have been low during the early part of the summer, but samples collected on August 30 contained toxigenic algae at levels above advisory action level at all three sampling sites." Kauffman said.

Kauffman said the cell counts at all three sites were 21,218; 37,009; and 1,237,744 cells per milliliter of water. The DHS advisory threshold is 15,000 cells/ml.


Anabaena flos aquae organisms may produce toxins that affect the liver and nervous systems of animals and human beings.


Kauffman advises that until further notice from DHS, ingestion or skin contact with water from the lake is to be avoided. Swallowing or inhaling droplets of lake water is also to be avoided. "People should carefully supervise their children and pets to avoid water contact, and especially water ingestion," he said.


Eating of fish caught from the lake during this advisory period should also be avoided because there is potential for algal toxins to accumulate in fish muscle, Kauffman added. The fact that Anabaena flos aquae counts of over a million have been found suggests that toxin levels may be extremely high.


Symptoms of exposure to toxins may include numbness, tingling, dizziness or paralysis, leading to difficult breathing and cardiac disturbance. Other symptoms may include skin irritation, weakness, stomach or intestinal upset, cramping, vomiting or fainting. All of these symptoms require immediate medical attention. Children and pets are especially at risk.


The bloom and the condition of the water will be monitored until the bloom subsides. The public will be advised when health concerns no longer exist.


Additional information about blue-green algae can be found at the DHS public health advisories Web site, or by calling the contact persons indicated above. Local information may be obtained by calling the local U.S. Forest Service office or the Deschutes County Health Department at (541) 322-7426.