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Recreational use health advisory re-issued for Upper Klamath Lake

 

June 25

High levels of cyanobacteria toxins found in the Klamath County water body

The Oregon Health Authority re-issued a recreational use health advisory today for Upper Klamath Lake due to the presence of a cyanobacteria (harmful algae) bloom. The lake is located off Oregon Route 140, 15 miles west of Klamath Falls in Klamath County.

Water monitoring has confirmed the presence of cyanobacteria and the toxins they produce in Upper Klamath Lake. The cyanotoxin concentrations found can be harmful to humans and animals.

The advisory was originally issued on June 15 and lifted on Friday, June 22. OHA updates an advisory when new sampling data is received. Sampling data received on June 15 showed toxin levels above recreational guideline values and sampling data received June 22 showed toxin levels below guidelines. The most recent sampling data again show toxin levels above recreational guideline values prompting OHA to re-issue the recreational use health advisory.

People should avoid swimming and high-speed water activities, such as water skiing or power boating, in areas where blooms are identified. Although toxins are not absorbed through the skin, people who have skin sensitivities may experience a puffy red rash at the affected area.

Drinking water directly from this area of the lake at this time is especially dangerous. OHA public health officials advise campers and other recreational visitors that toxins cannot be removed by boiling, filtering or treating water with camping-style filters.

People who draw in-home water directly from the affected area are advised to use an alternative water source because private treatment systems are not proven effective for removing algae toxins. However, public drinking water systems can reduce algae toxins through proper filtration and disinfection. If people connected to public water systems have questions about treatment and testing, they should contact their water supplier. If community members have questions about water available at nearby campgrounds, they should contact campground management.

OHA public health officials recommend that those who choose to eat fish from waters where algae blooms are present remove all fat, skin and organs before cooking, as toxins are more likely to collect in these tissues. Fillets should also be rinsed with clean water. Public health officials also advise people to not eat freshwater clams or mussels from Upper Klamath Lake 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 a variety of symptoms including 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. People who bring their pets to Eagle Ridge County Park for recreation activities should take special precautions to keep them from drinking from or swimming in the lake.

The advisory will be lifted when the concern no longer exists.

With proper precautions to avoid water contact, people are encouraged to visit Upper Klamath Lake and enjoy activities such as fishing, camping, hiking, biking, picnicking, and bird watching. Boating is safe as long as speeds do not create excessive water spray, which could lead to inhalation risk.

For health information or to report an illness, contact the Oregon Health Authority (OHA) at 971-673-0440.

OHA maintains an updated list of all health advisories on its website. To learn if an advisory has been issued or lifted for a specific water body, visit the Harmful Algae Blooms website at http://www.healthoregon.org/hab and select “algae bloom advisories,” or call the Oregon Public Health Division toll-free information line at 877-290-6767.

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 Media contact

Delia Hernández

OHA External Relations

503-422-7179

phd.communications@state.or.us

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