A health advisory prompted by high algae levels found in Lost Creek Lake, located 30 miles northeast of Medford on the Rogue River, was issued today by the Oregon Department of Human Services (DHS) and the Jackson County Health Department.
Water monitoring has confirmed the presence of blue-green algae that can produce toxins harmful to humans and animals, said Laura Boswell, Harmful Algae Bloom Surveillance program coordinator in DHS. These algae levels are likely to be associated with dangerous toxin concentrations in the water, according to World Health Organization guidelines.
Swallowing or inhaling water droplets should be avoided, as well as skin contact with water by humans or animals. Drinking water from Lost Creek Lake is especially dangerous. Boswell advised campers and other visitors that toxins cannot be removed by boiling, filtering or treating the water.
People who draw in-home water directly from an algae bloom-affected water body are advised to use an alternative water source. If their drinking water supplier draws from an affected water source, they may want to ask if the water has been tested. If the supplier has not tested the water, DHS recommends using another water source not affected by the bloom.
DHS recommends that people who choose to eat fish from waters where algae blooms are present should remove all fat, skin and organs before cooking since toxins are more likely to collect in these tissues. Additionally, DHS advises that people should not eat crayfish or freshwater shellfish harvested from Lost Creek Lake while this advisory is in effect.
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 particularly susceptible.
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, catch-and-release fishing and bird watching.