Toxic algae warning issued at Lacamas Lake

Public Health warns people to avoid swimming, water skiing in lake or letting animals come into contact with water

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A sign warns visitors of toxic algae found in Lacamas Lake in July 2020. (Kelly Moyer/Post-Record files)

Clark County Public Health has issued a warning advisory for Lacamas Lake due to elevated levels of cyanotoxins from harmful algae.

Results from water samples taken from Lacamas Lake on July 5, revealed cyanotoxins above the threshold level recommended by the Washington Department of Health. Warning signs are being placed at public access points at the lake.

Cyanotoxins can be harmful to people, especially young children, and deadly for small pets that drink the water. When a warning advisory is in place, health officials recommend:

• No swimming or water skiing.

• No water contact for animals.

• Avoiding areas of scum when using motorized boats, paddle boarding, kayaking or canoeing.

• No drinking lake water.

• Cleaning fish well and discarding organs.

Public Health will continue to monitor Lacamas Lake and, while blooms are present, take weekly water samples to test toxin levels. Signs will be updated as conditions change.

Algal blooms are also present at Vancouver Lake and Round Lake in Camas, but results from water samples collected this week show toxin levels are below state threshold levels. Public Health will continue to monitor Vancouver and Round lakes and take weekly water samples to test toxin levels as long as the blooms are present.

Harmful algal blooms can pose a significant health risk if the cyanobacteria or toxins are ingested, inhaled or contact skin. Inhaled bacteria or toxins could cause wheezing, coughing, chest tightness and shortness of breath. Skin contact could lead to rash, itching, blisters and eye irritation.

If water with cyanotoxins is accidentally swallowed, symptoms could include abdominal pain, diarrhea, vomiting, numbness of the lips, tingling in fingers and toes, and dizziness.

Additional information about harmful algal blooms and current advisories are posted on the Public Health public beach website at lic-beaches.