Lab result confirm high level of toxin in harmful algae at Mormon Reservoir

MGN- image of blue-green algae
MGN- image of blue-green algae(KMVT)
Published: Aug. 24, 2016 at 11:39 AM MDT
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Authorities are warning the public of a dangerous toxin found in the water at Mormon Reservoir following laboratory test results.

In early August, the Mormon Reservoir was found to have harmful blue-green algae present in the water.

Mormon Reservoir is a recreation site located in Camas County, about 11 miles south of Fairfield.

Tuesday, the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality and the South Central Public Health District said laboratory results showed a high level of a toxin called Microsystin found in the harmful algae blooms that were collected on Aug. 8.

The samples indicated an average of 835 micrograms of Microcystine per liter of water, according to a news release.

The World Health Organization indicates that 20 to 2,000 micrograms per liter of water as a “High risk” for recreational water users.

The public is being strongly advised to avoid exposure to the blue-green algae and to ensure children, pets, and livestock are not exposed to the water.

The public is told not to drink water with the blue-green algae bloom, citing that neither boiling nor disinfecting water will remove the toxins.

People who plan to consumer fish that may have been exposed to blue-green algae are encouraged to only consume the fillet portion and to remove any fat, organ and skin, as the toxin can accumulate in the organs. Authorities said the risk associated with consuming fish caught in waters with a blue-green algae bloom is unknown.

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

Microcystin is produced by Cyanobacteria (often called blue-green algae), according to the news release. Microcystin is hepatotoxic, meaning they are able to cause serious damage to the liver. Lesser symptoms include stomach ache, diarrhea, and vomiting. Microcystin can kill animals that drink contaminated water. Dogs, cattle, birds, and fish are more likely to be affected because they are more likely to drink from or swim in affected waters.

 HABs and associated toxins can cause serious illness and possibly death in humans and animals, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

In 2007, 15 people were affected with respiratory illness from exposure to HAB toxins associated with a HAB outbreak near the Florida coast.

From 2007 to 2001, HAB-associated foodborne exposures caused 273 cases of human illness.  These illnesses included stomach, intestinal, and neurological symptoms from eating finfish or shellfish.

From 2009 to 2010, 11 HAB-associated outbreaks from recreation exposures in freshwater settings in three states were reported to the CDC.  The 61 people sickened in the outbreaks experienced skin irritation, stomach, intestinal, respiratory, or neurological signs and symptoms.  These 11 outbreaks represented 46 percnet of the 24 outbreaks associated with untreated recreational water reported for 2009-2010.

In 2014, nearly 500,00 residents of Toledo, Ohio could not use public water to drink, cook, or bather for almost three days because it was contaminated with a toxin from a HAB in Lake Erie.