Be on the lookout for waters that look suspicious — foamy, scummy, thick like paint, pea-green, blue-green or brownish red. When in doubt, stay out!
Health advisories for toxic algae levels have been issued for the following bodies of water in Oregon:
- No current advisories.
- Clackamas Cove portion of the Clackamas River, located at Clackamette Park in Oregon City in Clackamas County. LIFTED 11.4.15
- Upper Klamath and Agency lakes downstream to Keno Dam on JC Boyle Reservoir, along Highway 97 in Klamath County. LIFTED 10.27.15
Willow Creek Reservoir, located just east of the town of Heppner in Morrow County. LIFTED 10.27.15
Lake Billy Chinook Reservoir LIFTED 7.1.15
Willamette River at the Ross Island Lagoon, including the mouth where it enters the Holgate Slough. Ross Island is located about one river mile south of downtown Portland in Multnomah County. LIFTED 10.1.15 Note: The Oregon Health Authority recommends that people continue to be cautious with their pets, because toxins are still slightly above the very low exposure levels established for dogs.
- South Umpqua River: Avoid water in pools of bedrock along the South Umpqua River.
Children and pets are particularly susceptible to this toxin
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.
Swallowing or inhaling water droplets should be avoided, as well as skin contact with water by humans or animals. Drinking water from these bodies of water is especially dangerous. Oregon Public Health officials advise campers and other visitors that toxins cannot be removed by boiling, filtering or treating the water with camping-style filters.
Oregon Public Health 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, public health officials advise that people should not eat crayfish or freshwater shellfish harvested from these bodies of water while this advisory is in effect.
A hazard for dogs
Dogs have become very sick and even died after swimming in and swallowing water affected by toxic algae. If you find thick, brightly colored foam or scum at a lake, pond or river, don’t let your pet drink or swim in the water. Avoid contact with the water, as toxins can be absorbed through the skin.
If your dog goes into the water:
- Don’t let your pet lick its fur
- Wash your pet with clean water as soon as possible
- If your dog has symptoms such as drooling, weakness, vomiting, staggering and convulsions after being in bloom-affected water, call your veterinarian immediately.
For more information, contact the Harmful Algae Bloom Surveillance program at (971) 673-0400.