Harmful algae bloom found in Fernan Lake

Harmful algae bloom found in Fernan Lake
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(Algae along the shores of Fernan Lake on July 16, 2018)

The Panhandle Health District issued a health advisory for Fernan Lake on Thursday morning.

According to a release, cyanobacteria (also known as harmful algae bloom or HAB) was found during water quality monitoring.

HABs can produce dangerous toxins which can cause rashes, hives, diarrhea, vomiting and/or coughing. More severe symptoms affecting the liver and nervous system may result from ingesting the water. The Panhandle Health District said pets, children, the elderly and those with compromised immune systems are most at risk from these toxins.

HABs are also an eyesore. They can create discolored water, streaks or globs of scum and thick green mats along lake shorelines. (Algae found in Fernan Lake in July 2018 is pictured above.)

“These scums should be avoided,” said Kristin Larson, Water Quality Analyst for the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality. “There is scum formation at the east side boat ramp and visible cyanobacterial colonies over the rest of the lake that have been lab identified.”

Anyone who uses Fernan Lake is urged to avoid exposure to any water which looks like it may have a HAB. Anyone who uses the lake as a drinking source should be advised that these toxins cannot be removed by boiling or filtering the water.

Anyone who chooses to eat fish from the lake is recommended to remove all fat, skin and organs before cooking, since toxins are more likely to collect in those tissues.

If you believe you have been exposed to HAB and have persisting symptoms, you’re urged to see a doctor. The Panhandle Health District said the public will be notified when there is no longer concern for HABs.