A health advisory was issued today for South Tenmile Lake, located 10 miles north of North Bend in Coos County.
Visual inspection indicates a blue-green algae bloom is present in the Coleman Arm of South Tenmile Lake, and Oregon Department of Environmental Quality is collecting and analyzing samples to confirm whether or not associated toxins are also present. If present, these toxins can be harmful to humans and animals.
People should avoid swallowing water while swimming or inhaling water droplets as a result of high-speed water activities, such as water skiing or power boating, in areas where blooms are identified. Although toxins are not absorbed through the skin, people who have skin sensitivities may experience a puffy red rash at the affected area.
Drinking water directly from South Tenmile Lake at this time is especially dangerous. Oregon public health officials advise campers and other recreational visitors that toxins cannot be removed by boiling, filtering or treating water with camping-style filters.
People who draw in-home water directly from the affected area are advised to use an alternative water source because private treatment systems are not proven effective for removing algae toxins. However, public drinking water systems can reduce algae toxins through proper filtration and disinfection. If people connected to public water systems have questions about treatment and testing, they should contact their water supplier. If community members have questions about water available at nearby campgrounds, they should contact campground management.
Oregon health officials recommend that those who choose to eat fish from waters where algae blooms are present remove all fat, skin and organs before cooking, as toxins are more likely to collect in these tissues. Fillets should also be rinsed with clean water. Public health officials also advise people to not eat freshwater clams or mussels from South Tenmile Lake and that Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife regulations do not allow the harvest of these shellfish from freshwater sources. Crayfish muscle can be eaten, but internal organs and liquid fat should be discarded.
Exposure to toxins can produce a variety of symptoms including 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 at increased risk for exposure because of their size and level of activity. People who bring their pets to South Tenmile Lake for recreation activities should take special precautions to keep them from drinking from or swimming in the lake.
The advisory will be lifted when the concern no longer exists.
With proper precautions to avoid water contact, people are encouraged to visit South Tenmile Lake and enjoy activities such as fishing, camping, hiking, biking, picnicking, 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 or to report an illness, contact the Oregon Health Authority (OHA) at 971-673-0400.
OHA maintains an updated list of all health advisories on its website. To learn if an advisory has been issued or lifted for a specific water body, visit the Harmful Algae Blooms website at http://www.healthoregon.org/hab and select "algae bloom advisories," or call the Oregon Public Health Division toll-free information line at 877-290-6767.