Health advisory for Odell Lake

Blue-green algae toxins found in water

By Dylan Darling / The Bulletin

Published Jul 22, 2014 at 12:01AM

State health officials are warning visitors to Odell Lake of high levels of toxic blue-green algae in the water.

The Oregon Health Authority announced the advisory Monday for the popular fishing and boating lake along state Highway 58 in Klamath County. It’s unclear how long the warning will remain in effect.

“There is no way to tell how long these advisories will go,” Health Authority spokesman Jonathan Modie said. “It really depends on the algae bloom itself.”

Recent water tests at Odell Lake confirmed “very high levels” of toxins produced by blue-green algae, according to the Health Authority.

Concentrations of the toxins may be harmful to people and animals.

Health officials advise people to avoid coming into contact with the lake’s water, saying drinking the water could be especially dangerous.

The toxins may cause numbness, tingling and dizziness that could lead to breathing or heart problems, according to the Health Authority. Other symptoms of blue-green algae toxin exposure include skin irritation, weakness, diarrhea, nausea, cramps and fainting.

Pets and kids may be more susceptible due to their size, the amount of time they play in the water and the amount they swallow while playing in it, said David Farrer, a toxicologist with the Health Authority.

Adults could also put themselves at risk of toxin exposure by going for a dip in the water.

“It is just impossible to swim without swallowing a little of the water you are swimming in,” Farrer said.

Fish from the lake are OK to eat, but the Health Authority recommends people remove all fat, skin and organs from the fish before eating them. The toxins often collect in these tissues.

Boiling, filtering or treating the water won’t remove the toxins, according to the Health Authority. Health officials said they will advise the public when Odell Lake’s water is safe again.

— Reporter: 541-617-7812, ddarling@bendbulletin.com