Blue green algae

Blue-green algae on the surface of a body of water.

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Eastern Idaho Public Health is advising people not to drink or inhale water at Henrys Lake and the Upper Island Park Reservoir due to the presence of harmful algal blooms.

The health district and the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality issued a health advisory on Thursday, informing residents of two species of harmful blue-green algae with the potential to produce dangerous toxin that were confirmed in water samples from Henrys Lake and the reservoir.

Blue-green algae are microscopic bacteria that occur naturally in healthy water bodies, the advisory said. Under the right conditions, the physical appearance of blue-green algae blooms can be unsightly, often causing thick green mats along shorelines. They might also cause an unpleasant odor or stench and occur in water conditions that are common during the warmer summer months.

The health district recommends people recreating at Henrys Lake and Upper Island Park Reservoir, near the dam up to Buttermilk boat ramp and Lakeside Lodge area to avoid swallowing or inhaling water and to avoid direct contact with water containing visible algae. Drinking water from the lake is especially dangerous and the toxins cannot be removed by boiling or filtering the water.

If people choose to eat fish from this area, they should remove all fat, skin and organs before cooking since toxins are more likely to collect in those tissues.

Children and pets are particularly susceptible to the effects of blue-green algae, the health district said. Symptoms of blue-green algae exposure include skin and eye irritation, nausea, diarrhea, numbness of hands and feet, and difficulty breathing. If symptoms occur, call your doctor.

For animals, symptoms might include muscle spasms, decreased movement, labored breathing, convulsion, and death. If pets are experiencing these symptoms, call your veterinarian immediately.