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Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Blue Green Algae Bloom in Silver Lake

Longview, WA – Cowlitz County Public Health officials are advising the public to avoid direct contact with water at Silver Lake due to a cyanobacteria (blue-green algae) bloom. Because exposure to cyanobacteria can cause disease, public health officials are recommending:
  No swimming, wading or activities that involve water contact
  No wind surfing or sail boarding
  No water contact for animals
  Precautions against contact with water while boating or fishing

 “It is important that when there is a visible algae bloom that people not come into contact with the water to protect their health and avoid possible illness. We have posted signage around the lake for awareness purposes. As long as the signs are posted, people are encouraged to avoid contact with the water. Please do not swim in or drink the lake water at this time until further notice,” said Audrey Shaver, Environmental Health Services Lead.

Silver Lake is not closed to recreational activities but the public is strongly encouraged to avoid contact with the water where the algae bloom is visibly present. The public water supply and private wells around the lake are not affected by the blue green algae bloom. Eating fish out of the lake is considered safe as long as organs like liver and kidney, where toxins can build up, are carefully removed and that people always wash hands after cleaning fish. The Cowlitz County Health Department is actively monitoring the lake, but conditions that promote algae growth and toxin release can change quickly. Monitoring and testing of the lake cannot ensure that all areas of the lake are safe.

About cyanobacteria (blue-green algae) A blue-green algal bloom is a rapid and massive buildup that gives the water a scummy texture and a green color. It may also appear bluish, brownish or reddish green. A bloom may appear during warm weather, usually between May and October. Warm, sunny weather and pollutants can cause algal blooms. Possible sources of pollutants include phosphorus and nitrogen, found in fertilizers and in agricultural, human and animal waste. Some algae may contain toxins that can lead to liver injury, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. In addition, the toxins can damage the nervous system and lead to muscle tremors, paralysis and respiratory distress. Skin irritations, allergic reactions, rashes and blisters also are possible. Symptoms may occur within minutes or appear hours or days later following exposure. If you have had contact with the water and experience any of these symptoms, you may wish to contact your health care provider. Because warm- blooded animals, such as cats, dogs and livestock are at risk from exposure, please keep pets out of the lake. To report an algae bloom or symptoms of illness that may be related to algae exposure, please call the Cowlitz County Health Department Environmental Health Services at 360-414-5599, press 1, x6441. Additional information on blue-green is also available online at

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