Blue-green algae found in Avondale Lake and Morton Slough

Credit: Panhandle Health District

HAYDEN, Idaho — The Panhandle Health District has issued public health advisories for Avondale Lake and Morton Slough due to the presence of blue-green algae.

The PHD says recent water sampling by the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality showed the presence of cyanobacteria, or harmful algae bloom, in the bodies of water. The public is advised to use caution when recreating in or near the water.

Cyanobacteria are a natural part of Idaho’s water bodies. When temperatures rise, bacteria populations can bloom and toxic chemical compounds, or cyanotoxins, can be released into the water.

People should use caution anywhere near water that appears discolored or murky, as harmful algae bloom can spread or move with wind and water currents. Blooms are often presented as discolored water, streaks or globs of scum and cause thick green mats along lake shorelines.

Pets, children, the elderly, and people with compromised immune systems are most at-risk of harmful exposure. Private domestic water system owners using the lake as a drinking water source are cautioned that potentially present toxins cannot be removed by boiling or filtering the water. If you make contact with water containing harmful algae bloom, wash it off with fresh water.

If people choose to eat fish from the lake or slough, it is recommended that they remove all fat, skin and organs before cooking, since toxins are more likely to collect in those tissues.

Symptoms of exposure to algal toxins vary according to exposure. Symptoms include rashes, hives, diarrhea, vomiting, coughing, and/or wheezing. More severe symptoms affecting the liver and nervous system may result from ingesting the water. If symptoms persist, consult with your health care provider.

For more information about harmful algal blooms, visit the DEQ’s website or the Idaho Department of Health & Welfare’s website.

READ: Public health advisory issued for blue-green algae in Fernan Lake