Blue-green algae at Canyon County's Lake Lowell has prompted the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality and Southwest District Health to issue a health alert.
“Samples from Lake Lowell contain high concentrations of blue-green algae that may produce toxins harmful to people and animals,” Stephanie Jenkins, watershed analyst for the DEQ’s Boise Regional Office, said in a news release Friday. “Although the swimming and boating season for Lake Lowell has ended, we want to advise people who may be in contact with water at Lake Lowell, such as anglers or hunters, to be aware of these conditions and take proper precautions.”
Blue-green algae blooms occur in waters with high levels of nutrients such as phosphorus and nitrogen. District and state health officials advise humans, pets and livestock to stay out of the lake during the bloom and not drink lake water. Fish caught in the lake should be cleaned and rinsed with clean water, with only the fillet portion consumed. If your skin or your pet's fur contacts the lake water, wash with clean water as soon as possible.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, people who are exposed to water with high concentrations of blue-green algae may experience nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, difficulty breathing, skin irritation, allergic responses, liver damage or neurotoxic reactions such as tingling fingers and toes. Symptoms in humans are rare, but anyone with symptoms should seek medical attention. Boiling or filtering the water will not remove blue-green algae toxins.
Pets and livestock are vulnerable to blue-green algae and should stay out of water where blooms are visible, health officials said. Pets and livestock can be exposed to blue-green algae through drinking, swimming or self-grooming. A reaction will likely require immediate veterinary attention.
Lake Lowell is part of the Deer Flat National Wildlife Refuge, which is managed by the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Services.