OREGON - With summer on its way in Oregon, the Oregon Health Authority is reminding outdoor enthusiasts to be alert for harmful algae blooms when exploring the Oregon lakes, rivers and reservoirs.
Most algae blooms are harmless, but under the right conditions, some can produce toxins capable of causing illness in people and animals.
If toxin levels in the algae reach values above the OHA guidline values for human health, the agency will issue a health advisory, warning people to stay out of affected water to avoid illness. This year, the toxin guideline values will be reduced from what it was in order to protect the public.
Since only a fraction of Oregon's fresh waters are monitored, OHA advises people to stay out of the water if it looks foamy, scummy, thick like paint and pea-green, blue-green or brownish-red in color.
Exposure to the toxins can cause skin rash, diarrhea, cramps, vomiting, numbness, dizziness and fainting. Children and pets are most vulnerable due to their size and level of activity in the water.
To learn if an advisory has been issued or lifted for a specific water body, you can visit the Harmful Algae Bloom website at healthoregon.org/hab, or call the Oregon Public Health Division line at 877-290-6767.