Harmful blue-green algae bloom discovered in Lost Creek Lake

The organisms can produce toxins that are harmful to humans and animals

Health officials are warning people of high levels of blue-green algae in Lost Creek Lake. A health advisory was issued Thursday for the lake, 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 toxins in the water that can be harmful to humans and animals. Swallowing or inhaling water droplets should be avoided, as well as skin contact with water, officials said in a news release.

The algae may produce toxins that can be dangerous to people and pets, but not every bloom includes toxins. When they do, the toxins are released when the algae die and dissipate naturally.

When the blooms subside, public-health rules require a clean bill of health confirmed by tests for algae cell counts and toxins before an advisory is lifted.

During advisories, people and pets are warned to avoid all water contact, but compliance is voluntary. Anglers are encouraged to practice catch-and-release fishing.

Oregon Public Health officials said drinking water from Lost Creek Lake should be avoided. Toxins cannot be filtered by standard camp filters or by boiling the water. In-home filtering systems cannot cleanse the water, though public treatment plants can reduce algae toxins through filtration and disinfection.

People who eat fish from algae-tainted waters should remove all fat, skin and organs before cooking because toxins can collect there. People should not eat crayfish or freshwater shellfish taken from infested lakes during an advisory.

No confirmed human illnesses have been tied directly to an algae outbreak in Oregon. However, at least four dogs have died in recent years from toxins in water near the Umpqua River near Elkton.

The public will be notified when the toxic bloom fades, officials said.

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