Water monitoring has confirmed the presence of high levels of cyanotoxins produced by blue-green algae. These dangerous cyanotoxin concentrations in the water can be harmful to humans and animals.
Swallowing or inhaling water droplets, as well as skin contact with water, should be avoided. Drinking water directly from Devils Lake is especially dangerous.
Oregon Public Health Division officials advise campers and other recreational visitors that toxins cannot be removed by boiling, filtering or treating the water with camping-style filters.
People who draw in-home water directly from Devils Lake are advised to use an alternative water source because private treatment systems are not proven effective at removing algae toxins. However, public drinking water systems can reduce algae toxins through proper filtration and disinfection. If people on public water systems have questions about treatment and testing, they should contact their water supplier.
Oregon health officials recommend that people who choose to eat fish from waters where algae blooms are present remove all fat, skin and organs before cooking, because toxins are more likely to collect in these tissues.
Public health officials also advise that people not eat freshwater clams or mussels from affected water, and that Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife regulations do not allow the harvest of these shellfish from freshwater sources. Crayfish muscle can be eaten, but internal organs and liquid fat should be discarded.
Exposure to toxins can produce symptoms of numbness, tingling and dizziness that 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 at increased risk for exposure because of their size and level of activity.
The public will be advised when the concern no longer exists.
With proper precautions to avoid water contact, people are encouraged to visit Devils Lake and enjoy activities such as camping, hiking, biking, picnicking, fishing and bird watching. Boating is safe as long as speeds do not create excessive water spray, which could lead to inhalation risk.
For local information about water quality or blue-green algae sampling, contact the Devils Lake Water Improvement District at 541-994-5330.
For health information, to report human or pet illnesses due to blooms, or to ask questions about a news release, contact the Oregon Health Authority at 971-673-0400. Also contact the Oregon Public Health toll-free information line at 1-877-290-6767 or visit the Harmful Algae Blooms website and select “Algae Bloom Advisories,” for information regarding advisories issued or lifted for the season.
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