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Health officials warn of hazardous toxins in Lake Cascade and the Payette River

DEQ tested samples from the two bodies of water, and determined there is a high enough level of cyanotoxin present to be hazardous to people and animals.

BOISE, Idaho — Health officials are warning members of the public of potentially hazardous conditions at Lake Cascade and the Payette River.

The Idaho Department of Health and Welfare (DHW) Division of Public Health and the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) have discovered algal blooms in the water, that can be harmful to both people and pets.

DEQ tested samples from the two bodies of water, and determined there is a high enough level of cyanotoxin present to be hazardous to people and animals.

Recently a dog death in Gem County was linked to cyanotoxin-positive water from the Payette River, and a horse was recently ill after drinking from Lake Cascade and the Payette River. 

More testing is being done to determine how concerning it would be for humans.

DPH is urging visitors near Lake Cascade and the Payette River to be extra cautious and follow these precautions:

  • Ensure pets and livestock are not exposed to the water. 
  • Clean skin, hide, or fur with clean water as soon as possible after any water contact.
  • Do not drink or cook with water containing a bloom. Boiling and filtering the water does not remove the toxins and can increase the risk of adverse health effects.
  • Wash hands thoroughly in clean water after handling fish or objects from these waters.
  • Clean and wash fish thoroughly in uncontaminated water and dispose of internal organs before consumption. If you choose to eat fish from this area, filet the fish and remove all fat, skin, and organs before cooking. Cyanotoxins can accumulate in fish and the risk to people is still being studied. 
  • Avoid water if you have increased risk of illness from exposure. People at increased risk of illness from cyanotoxins include those with liver or kidney damage, and should avoid swimming, wading, or other activities in the water. 
  • Monitor media reports and DHW's website for health advisories.

Symptoms of cyanotoxin exposure can include rash, hives, diarrhea, vomiting, coughing, and/or wheezing. More severe symptoms may affect the liver and nervous system if water happens to be ingested. Persisting symptoms should prompt a phone call to your healthcare provider. 

Animals including wildlife, livestock and pets can all become infected and may even die, within minutes to days after cyanotoxin exposure. Dogs often swim in or drink contaminated water and can lick contaminated water or bloom material off their fur; because of this, they are usually the first to be affected.

If your animals have been in the water, wash them with clean water and try to keep them from licking themselves. Contact a veterinarian if your animal seems 

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