Toxic algae warning issued after pet dog dies

Toxic algae warning issued after pet dog dies
Toxic algae in Siltcoos Lake in 2007.

From a press release

Oregon Public Health officials have received confirmation of high algae toxins in the South Umpqua River, Lawson Bar area off Interstate 5 Exit 102 near Canyonville.

Water samples were collected and a health advisory for the area was issued on Aug. 24 due to concern for algae levels following the death of a pet dog in the area and visual observation of algae scum.

Tissue samples from the dog are being conducted but results are not yet complete.

Health officials emphasize that swallowing or inhaling water droplets should be avoided, as well as skin contact with water by humans and animals.

Drinking water from the South Umpqua River Lawson Bar area is especially dangerous. Oregon Public Health officials advise campers and other South Umpqua River Lawson Bar area visitors that toxins cannot be removed by boiling, filtering or treating the water with camping style filters. 

People who draw in-home water directly from the South Umpqua River Lawson Bar area  are advised to use an alternative water source because private treatment systems are not proven effective in removing algae toxins. However, public drinking water systems can reduce algae toxins through proper filtration and disinfection. If people on public water systems have questions about treatment and testing, they should contact their water supplier.

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 the South Umpqua River Lawson Bar area 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 the South Umpqua River Lawson Bar area and enjoy activities such as camping, hiking, biking, picnicking, catch-and-release fishing and bird watching. Boating is safe as long as speeds do not create excessive water spray, which could lead to inhalation risk.

For health information, contact the Harmful Algae Bloom Surveillance program at  971-673-0400 or www.healthoregon.org/hab; also contact the Oregon Public Health toll-free information line at 1-877-290-6767 or Jerry Meyer at the Douglas County Health Department at 541-440-3578.