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DHS news release

Sept. 10, 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 Wickiup Reservoir in Deschutes County

A blue-green algae bloom at Wickiup Reservoir west of La Pine prompted officials to issue a health advisory today. It is being 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.

“Samples collected on September 7 contained toxigenic algae at levels above the advisory action level,” Kauffman said.

Kauffman said the cell counts at Wickiup Reservoir were 50,378 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.

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 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.