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DHS news release

August 19, 2005


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


Public health advisory issued for eastern-most arm of Hills Creek Reservoir



A health advisory prompted by high algae levels found in the eastern-most arm of Hills Creek Reservoir (upstream/above Forest Service Bridge on F.S. Road 2118), located five miles southeast of Oakridge, was issued today by the Oregon Department of Human Services (DHS) and the Willamette National Forest.


Water sampling by the U.S. Forest Service has confirmed the presence of blue-green algae that can produce toxins harmful to humans and animals, said Dave Stone, DHS toxicologist.


These 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 this area of Hills Creek Reservoir is especially dangerous. The toxins cannot be removed by boiling, filtering or treating water.


DHS strongly recommends that if people choose to eat fish from this area of 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. Symptoms of skin irritation, weakness, diarrhea, nausea, cramps and fainting should also receive medical attention if they persist or worsen. Children and pets are particularly susceptible.


The public will be advised when the concern no longer exists.


With proper precautions to avoid water contact, people are encouraged to visit the eastern-most arm of Hills Creek Reservoir and enjoy activities such as camping, hiking, biking, picnicking, catch-and-release fishing and bird watching.