Health Advisory Issued for Harmful Algal Bloom at Salmon Falls Creek Reservoir

Magic Valley Times-News

The Salmon Falls Creek Reservoir has shown an elevated level of cyanotoxin, according to the Department of Environmental Quality, on Monday. A public health advisory has been issued warning people to avoid contact with the water.

Discovery of elevated levels of a cyanotoxin —  a harmful algal bloom — at Salmon Falls Creek Reservoir has prompted the South Central Public Health District to issue a public health advisory.

Recent tests from the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality shows levels of a cyanotoxin, microcystin, are now at unhealthy levels in the reservoir.

Exposure to this toxin can be harmful to people, pets, and livestock.

When recreating at Salmon Falls Creek Reservoir the public is advised to take the following steps to protect their health:

Avoid exposure to water in reservoirs under a Harmful Algal Blooms health advisory. Make sure children, pets, and livestock are not exposed to the water.

  • Do not drink water with a HAB advisory. Boiling and disinfecting do not remove toxins from water.
  • Do not allow pets to eat dried algae
  • If you choose to eat fish from HAB water, remove all fat, skin, and organs before cooking. Toxins are more likely to collect in those tissues. Wash hands after handling.

In a press release, the public health district said that these toxins can cause acute health effects in humans such as eye, ear, and skin irritation as well as gastrointestinal distress, and they can severely affect neurological systems. Children and pets are especially at risk, the release said.

Cyanobacteria are a natural part of Idaho’s water bodies. When temperatures rise, their populations can bloom and toxic chemical compounds, or cyanotoxins, can be released into the water. 

Harmful Algal Blooms are not unusual in warm summer months and typically shrink quickly as the water temperature drops in mid to late fall. The public health district will issue another press release when tests show toxin levels at Salmon Falls Creek Reservoir are at safe levels again.

More information is available online at the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare website or the Department of Environmental Quality’s website.

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