Second toxic algae bloom prompts safety warning about Douglas County's Lemolo Lake

A second bloom of toxic algae discovered this week at Lemolo Lake has prompted Forest Service and state health officials to issue another warning that people and pets should avoid contact with the water there.

The lake, which is in eastern Douglas County, on Wednesday displayed vast scums of what Umpqua National Forest officials expected to be Anabeana flos-aquae similar to those that developed there earlier this summer.

Water tests Monday showed low levels of the blue-green algae,

"When you visibly see scum and you know you have blue-green algae, Oregon's guidelines say you need to put the advisory out right away," said Mikael Jones, the Umpqua Forest's hydrologist.

"When you have visible scums, you know you have (algae levels) far in excess of the guidelines," he said.

State, county and Forest Service officials have recommended that visitors avoid water contact and to practice catch-and-release fishing until the advisory is lifted.

Swallowing or inhaling water droplets — as well as skin contact with water by humans or animals — should be avoided during the advisory periods,. The toxins cannot be removed by boiling, filtering or treating water.

The Oregon Department of Health Services also recommends that if people choose to eat fish from the reservoir, they should remove all fat, skin and organs before cooking since toxins are more likely to collect in these tissues.

The advisory, which is not mandatory, will remain in effect until further notice.

Lemolo Lake joins Lost Creek Lake in northern Jackson County as the two reservoirs hit with blue-green algae blooms that triggered health advisories this week.

This algae strain, actually a form of bacteria, releases neurotoxins that can cause everything from a skin rash and dizziness to rapid death, though documented reactions were extremely rare in Oregon.

It is most threatening to children and pets, and it congregates most in shallow, stagnant coves and along shorelines.

The lake's first public-health advisory was issued July 10 and lasted until Aug. 26.

No timetable was given for when the advisories would be lifted. However, WHO protocols call for leaving the advisory in place until two weeks after the algae disappears.

The algae releases its toxins as it dies, so the extra time allows for the toxins to dissipate naturally.

Reach reporter Mark Freeman at 776-4470, or e-mail

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