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Media Contact:   Bonnie Widerburg (503) 731-4180

Technical Contact:   Dave Stone, DHS (971) 673-0444

Local: Willamette National Forest, Middle Fork Ranger District (541) 782-2283


July 21, 2005


Public health advisory issued for Packard Arm


A health advisory prompted by high algae levels found in Packard Arm at the Hills Creek Reservoir, located six miles south of Oakridge, was issued today by the Oregon Department of Human Services (DHS), and the Willamette National Forest.


Water sampling by the forest service has confirmed the presence of blue-green algae (Anabaena) that can produce toxins harmful to humans and animals, said Dave Stone, DHS toxicologist.  These algae levels are likely to be associated with dangerous toxin concentrations in the water, according to World Health Organization guidelines.


Swallowing or inhaling water droplets should be avoided, as well as skin contact with water by humans or animals.  Drinking water from Packard Arm is especially dangerous.   The toxins cannot be removed by boiling, filtering or treating water.


DHS recommends that if people choose to eat fish from this area at Hills Creek Reservoir, they should remove all fat, skin, and organs before cooking since toxins are more likely to collect in these tissues.


Symptoms of numbness, tingling and dizziness can lead to difficulty breathing or heart problems and require immediate medical attention.  If symptoms of skin irritation, weakness, diarrhea, nausea, cramps and fainting persist or worsen, people should seek medical attention. Children and pets are particularly susceptible.


The public will be advised when the advisory is lifted.  


With proper precautions to avoid water contact, people are encouraged to visit Packard Arm at Hills Creek Reservoir and enjoy activities such as camping, hiking, biking, picnicking, catch-and-release fishing and bird watching.