State issues advisory for Lake Selmac after finding harmful algae blooms

The Oregon Health Authority issued a recreational use health advisory on Wednesday for Lake Selmac after finding harmful cyanobacterial and cyanotoxins.

Posted: Oct 9, 2019 5:16 PM

JOSEPHINE COUNTY, Ore. — State officials are urging caution at Lake Selmac after tests found potentially harmful levels of algae and toxins in the lake.

The "recreational use health advisory" particularly discourages swimming, water skiing, or power boating in areas of the lake near algae blooms.

"People are encouraged to visit Lake Selmac 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," the Oregon Health Authority said.

Children and pets are vulnerable to algae exposure because of their size and level of activity.

"People who bring their pets to a lake with areas affected by a bloom for recreation activities, regardless of whether a recreational use health advisory is in place, should take special precautions to keep them from drinking from or swimming in these areas," OHA said. "Dogs can also be exposed to cyanotoxins when present by licking their fur, licking cyanobacteria off rocks, or eating cells from a bloom."

The danger comes from these cyanobacteria and cyanotoxins. Internal exposure to them can lead to food poisoning-like symptoms, or more serious results such as numbness, tingling, dizziness, and shortness of breath that may require medical attention. These toxins can't be absorbed through the skin, but can cause a puffy red rash for those with skin sensitivities.

Fish caught from areas where cyanobacterial blooms are present should have fat, skin and organs removed before cooking or freezing, as toxins are more likely to collect in these tissues. Fillets should also be rinsed with clean water.

For health information or to report an illness, you can contact OHA at 971-673-0482.

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