Toxic algae found at Mormon Reservoir, officials issue health advisory

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TWIN FALLS, Idaho (KMVT/KSVT) – A health advisory was issued Thursday for harmful algae found at Mormon Reservoir in Camas County.

MGN- image of blue-green algae

The Idaho Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) and the South Central Public Health District (SCPHD) said in a news release the blue-green algae produces toxins that are harmful to humans and animals.

The DEQ reports that a local veterinarian recently treated a dog that later died. Based on the symptoms, the veterinarian suspects that the dog might have died due to exposure to toxins produced by a harmful algal bloom (HAB). The cause of death is still under investigation. The animal recently had contact with algal blooms at Mormon Reservoir.
DEQ confirmed the presence of a cyanobacteria bloom, also known as blue-green algae at the Mormon Reservoir.

“Children and pets are particularly susceptible,” said Josh Jensen, Public Health Program Manager, with South Central Public Health District. “Exposure to the toxins produced by cyanobacterial HABs may result in life-threatening liver damage, neurological problems such as muscle spasms, decreased movement, labored breathing, convulsions, and possible death.”

The public is advised to take the following precautions:

• Avoid exposure to water experiencing a harmful algal bloom. Take extra precautions to ensure children, pets, and livestock are not exposed to the water.

• Do not consume water with a blue-green algae bloom. Neither boiling nor disinfecting removes blue-green algae toxins from water.

• If fish are known to have been exposed to a blue-green algae bloom, only consume the fillet portion (remove the fat, organs, and skin). Wash hands after handling. The risk associated with consuming fish caught in waters with a blue-green algae bloom is unknown. Toxins produced by blue-green algae can accumulate in the organs of fish.

HABs develop when specific types of photosynthetic bacteria form visible, dense, build ups in freshwater lakes, ponds, and reservoirs. Warm, slow moving water with high nutrient levels, particularly phosphorous, create conditions that allow algae to grow very quickly. Typically these conditions occur during the warmer months of late summer and early fall. HABs shrink dramatically as the water temperature drops in mid to late fall.

DEQ will continue to monitor water quality until the bloom dissipates and will advise the public when the concern no longer exists.

For updates, call the Public Health Hotline 866-450-3594, or check the links in the right-hand column.

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