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Algae bloom brings health advisory for Fernan Lake in Coeur d’Alene

People and pets should use caution in and near Fernan Lake in north Idaho after health officials detected a harmful blue-green algae bloom.

COEUR D'ALENE, Idaho — Idaho health officials are warning people to be careful when around Fernan Lake in Coeur d’Alene.

Recent water samples from the lake showed cyanobacteria, also known as a harmful algae bloom (HAB) or blue-green algae, according to the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ).

Health officials said people and pets should use caution when they are in or near the water, especially when there is risk that someone could swallow the lake water. Pets, children, the elderly, and people with compromised immune systems are most at-risk of harmful exposure.

Health officials said cyanobacteria are a natural part of Idaho’s water bodies. However, in hotter weather, the bacteria can bloom and release toxic chemical compounds into the water.

The blooms often appear as discolored water, scum, and thick green mats along shorelines.

If someone comes in contact with the algae, health officials recommend washing off with fresh water.

For people with private domestic water systems that utilize the lake for drinking water, health officials caution that toxins cannot be removed by boiling or filtering the water.

If fishing in the lake, health officials recommend that people remove all fat, skin, and organs from the fish before cooking, since toxins are more likely in those tissues.

Algae exposure symptoms

Symptoms from exposure to algal toxins can vary, according to health officials. Here are some common symptoms to watch for:

  • Rashes
  • Hives
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Coughing
  • Wheezing

More severe symptoms affecting the liver and nervous system may result from ingestion of water, health officials said.

If symptoms continue, you should consult with a doctor.

WATCH MORE: Young heroes save two Spokane teens from drowning in Lake Coeur d'Alene

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