Willow Lake near Lassen Volcanic National Park is experiencing an algae bloom as seen in this July 22 photo and health authorities recommend caution. Photo submitted

Harmful algal bloom detected in Willow Lake

Willow Lake, in the northern part of Plumas County near Lassen Volcanic National Park, is currently experiencing an algal bloom.

Algae are natural components of ecosystems but when conditions are just right, algae populations can take over in what is called an algal bloom.

Algal blooms typically result in green colored water often described as “pea soup.” They can also produce harmful compounds and toxins. This is the case at Willow Lake.

On July 22, Lassen National Forest Service staff collected two water samples from Willow Lake. Lab results identified low concentrations of saxitoxin in each sample. Saxitoxin is a potent neurotoxin that is harmful to humans and pets. Visitors to Willow Lake are urged to use caution and avoid exposure to algae or green-colored water.

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Practice these healthy habits while enjoying the outdoors at your local lake, river or stream.

Avoid algae and scum in the water and on shore. Keep an eye on children and pets (dogs). If you think an algae bloom is present, do not let pets and other animals go into or drink the water, or eat scum and algal accumulations on the shore. Don’t drink the water or use it for cooking.

Wash yourself, your family and your pets with clean water if they become exposed.

If you catch fish, throw away guts and clean fillets with tap water or bottled water before cooking.

See your health care provider if you experience any of the following symptoms within 48 hours of exposure to a suspected or confirmed algal bloom:

– Sore throat or congestion;

– Coughing, wheezing or difficulty breathing;

– Red or itchy skin, or a rash;

– Skin blisters or hives;

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– Earache or irritated eyes;

– Diarrhea or vomiting;

– Agitation;

– Headache; and/or

– Abdominal pain.

For more information about the algal bloom, visit the California Harmful Algal Blooms (HABs) Portal at mywaterquality.ca.gov/habs/index or contact Plumas County Environmental Health at 283-6355. To talk with a Public Health nurse, call 283-6330.