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Health advisory issued for Fernan Lake over harmful algae blooms

The harmful algae blooms have the potential to produce dangerous toxins in the lake.

KOOTENAI COUNTY, Idaho — Health officials have issued a health advisory for Fernan Lake over the presence of harmful algae blooms in its water.

Panhandle Health District and Idaho Department of Environmental Quality say they have confirmed the presence of cyanobacteria. The harmful algae blooms have the potential to produce dangerous toxins in areas of the lake.

Health officials also issued a health advisory for the presence of cyanobacteria in the lake last summer.

The physical appearance of the blooms can often present itself as discolored water or streak and globs of scum that create a thick, green mat along shorelines.

Pets, children, the elderly and people with compromised immune system are most at risk of harmful exposure.

One IDEQ analyst says there is scum formation at the east side boat ramp and visible algae colonies over the rest of the lake.

Anyone recreating near Fernan Lake is advised to avoid exposure to lake water that appears to contain a harmful algae bloom. Those who use the lake as a drinking water source are cautioned that potentially present toxins cannot be removed by boiling or filtering water.

If contact has been made with water containing a bloom, it is recommended to wash off with fresh water.

Those who choose to eat fish from the lake are urged to remove all fat, skin and organs before cooking the fish, since toxins are most likely collect in those tissues.

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Symptoms of exposure to the toxins include rashes, hives, diarrhea, vomiting, coughing and wheezing. Those who ingest the water may experience more severe symptoms affecting the liver and nervous system.

Panhandle Health officials say they will let the public know when the concern no longer exists. DEQ officials are working with residents and landowners to implement nutrient reduction projects to improve overall water quality and limit the frequency and duration of the algae blooms.

The latest information about harmful algae blooms in North Idaho can also be found on the DEQ website.

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