Spokane County’s Environmental Programs issued a harmful algae bloom alert for Newman Lake after test results taken this week revealed potentially harmful toxicity levels for cyanobacteria, or blue-green algae.
The harmful algae bloom alert is the latest of a handful issued this summer in the area. The extreme heat this summer and lower-than-normal water levels can create an ideal environment for organisms to easily grow and multiply, the release said.
In just one week this summer, the Panhandle Health District issued health advisories due to harmful blooms at three popular swimming spots in North Idaho: Fernan Lake, Hayden Lake and Sagle Slough, where the Pend Oreille River meets Lake Pend Oreille.
It also issued a public health advisory last month for Spirit Lake after officials confirmed the presence of a harmful algae bloom along the shoreline.
Per Washington State Department of Health recreational guidelines, Spokane County and the Spokane Regional Health District strongly advise that recreation at Newman Lake stop until further notice, according to a health district news release. It said there is no known illness among people or animals from Newman Lake.
Water quality monitoring and testing will continue there each week, the release said. Signage at the lake will be updated once toxicity levels are within acceptable limits.
If people eat fish from the lake, it is recommended they remove all fat, skin and organs before cooking because toxins are more likely to collect in those tissues.
Symptoms of exposure to algal toxins vary depending on the exposure but can include rashes, hives, diarrhea, vomiting, coughing and/or wheezing. More severe symptoms affecting the liver and nervous system may result from ingesting water. If symptoms persist, consult a health care provider.
Community members are encouraged to pay attention to signage and not swim in water that is under a health advisory or is listed as having a toxic algae bloom; avoid water that is stagnant, has dead fish or other aquatic animals in it, or contains large amounts of algae; not swim or play in water near sewer or other discharge pipes, or in areas that are frequented by livestock or other land animals; and not swim near or play in marshy areas where snails are commonly found.
It is safest for people to avoid getting water in their mouth and nose, and to stay out of the water if they have open wounds, sores or diarrhea.
Individuals who swim or play in the water should shower with soap and water when done and contact a health care provider immediately if they become ill or have symptoms of infection.
If somebody suspects water contains a toxic algae bloom, they are encouraged to visit the Washington state toxic algae tracking site at www.nwtoxicalgae.org for directions on how to report it.
Consumption of toxic algae can be fatal for pets.
More information on harmful algae blooms can be found on the health district’s website, srhd.org/health-topics/environmental-health/algae-blooms.
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