Public health advisory issued for blue-green algae in Fernan Lake

Photo courtesy of Pandhandle Health District
Photo courtesy of Pandhandle Health District

KOOTENAI CO., Idaho – Toxic algae blooms are making it unsafe to swim in Fernan Lake. 

A public health advisory is in place after recent water samples showed the presence of cyanobacteria (also known as blue-green algae). 

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

The bacteria will make the water discolored or murky. You can also tell they are present if there are streaks of scum causing thick green mats along lake shorelines. 

People are asked to be cautious when recreating in or near the water, especially where ingestion is a risk. Pets, children, the elderly and people with compromised immune systems are most at-risk of harmful exposure. 

If you choose to eat fish from the lake, it is recommended to remove all fat, skin and organs before cooking since toxins are more likely to collect in those tissues. 

Symptoms of exposure to algal toxins vary, but often include rashes, hives, diarrhea, vomiting, coughing and/or wheezing.