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MailTribune.com
  • Algae levels increase Lost Creek Lake health risk

  • State health officials issued a health advisory for Lost Creek Lake on Friday after finding high levels of blue-green algae in the lake.
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  • State health officials issued a health advisory for Lost Creek Lake on Friday after finding high levels of blue-green algae in the lake.
    The lake is about 30 miles northeast of Medford on the Rogue River. Officials confirmed the algae's presence through water monitoring. The algae can produce toxins that can be harmful to humans and animals.
    The public should avoid swallowing water as well as avoiding skin contact. The toxins can cause symptoms such as numbness, dizziness, difficulty breathing, heart problems, skin irritation, weakness, diarrhea, nausea, cramps and fainting. Anyone experiencing those symptoms after contact with the water should seek medical attention. Children and pets are at increased risk for exposure.
    The cyanotoxin concentrations cannot be removed from the water by boiling, filtering or treating the water with camping-style filters. Residents who draw their in-home water directly from Lost Creek should find an alternate water source.
    Those who eat fish caught in the waters where algae blooms are present should remove all fat, skin and organs before cooking, as the toxins are more likely to collect in those tissues, health officials said. Crayfish muscle can be eaten, but internal organs and fat should be discarded. Freshwater clams and mussels from the lake should not be eaten.
    Boating is safe as long as speeds do not create excessive water spray, which could lead to inhalation risk.
    There never has been a confirmed human illness in Oregon caused by the algae or its related toxins. However, two dogs have died in past years from algae-related toxins along the Umpqua River near Elkton.
    Lost Creek Lake has been repeatedly hit with algae outbreaks and advisories since 2006.
    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, contact the Harmful Algae Bloom Surveillance, or HABS, program at 971-673-0400.
    Reach reporter Ryan Pfeil at 541-776-4468 or by email at rpfeil@mailtribune.com.
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