CANYON COUNTY - Southwest District Health has issued a health advisory for Lake Lowell, following tests of recent water samples that indicate unsafe concentrations of toxin-producing blue-green algae.

The advisory was issued in cooperation with the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality and Deer Flat National Wildlife Refuge.

Blue-green algae may cause illness to people and animals.

Algae blooms are generally green or blue-green, and may form thick mats along shorelines. These may look like surface scum, resembling pea soup, and can have an unpleasant odor.

The advisory suggests taking the following precautions where blue-green algae blooms are known to be present:

  • People, pets and livestock should not drink the reservoir water
  • People and animals should stay out of the reservoir. Swimming, wading, or other activities involving full body contact with reservoir water should be avoided.
  • Fish should be cleaned and rinsed with clean water. Only the fillet portion should be eaten. All other parts should be discarded.
  • Pets and livestock are vulnerable to blue-green algae, and should stay out of water where blooms are visible. Animals can be exposed to blue-green algae through drinking, swimming, or by licking their wet coat or paws. A reaction will likely require immediate veterinary attention.
  • Do not allow pets to eat dried algae.
  • If reservoir water contacts skin or pet fur, wash with clean, potable water as soon as possible.
  • Areas of visible algae accumulation should be avoided.

Symptoms in humans are rare, but the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says people exposed to water with high concentrations of blue-green algae may experience nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, difficulty breathing, skin irritation, allergic responses, liver damage, or neurotoxic reactions such as tingling fingers and toes.

Anyone with symptoms should seek medical attention.

Boiling or filtering the water will not remove blue-green algae toxins.