A health advisory is being issued today due to high levels of blue-green algae in Lost Creek Lake, located 30 miles northeast of Medford on the Rogue River in Jackson County.
Water monitoring has confirmed the presence of blue-green algae that can produce toxins. These algae levels are likely to be associated with dangerous cyanotoxin concentrations in the water that 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 Lost Creek Lake is especially dangerous.
Oregon Public Health 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 Lost Creek 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 Lost Creek Lake. 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 Lost Creek 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, contact the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers at 541-878-2255 and the Jackson County Health Department at 541-774-8206. For health information or to report an illness, contact the Oregon Health Authority (OHA) at 971-673-0400.
The OHA maintains an updated list of all health advisories on its website. To find out if an advisory has been issued or lifted for a specific water body, visit www.healthoregon.org/hab and select “algae bloom advisories,” or call the Oregon Public Health Division toll-free information line at 1-877-290-6767.
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