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Toxic algae detected in Pass Lake

Fishermen urged to take caution in the lake

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Posted: Thursday, October 25, 2012 11:54 am | Updated: 11:54 am, Thu Oct 25, 2012.

SKAGIT COUNTY — The Skagit County Health Department says water samples taken recently from Pass Lake show the presence of toxic blue-green algae, which can cause illness in humans and animals.

Water samples taken from the lake at Deception Pass State Park Oct. 18 show concerning levels of Anatoxin-a, the Health Department said in a press release Thursday.

Evidence of toxic algae also has been found over the past few months on Fidalgo Island in Heart, Erie and Campbell lakes.

Toxic levels in Heart Lake and Lake Erie have remained low or below the level of detection for the past month, the Health Department reports. Lake Campbell also appears to be clearing, although it remains at the caution level pending further samples, according to the Health Department.

For now, the Health Department is warning people not to swim in or drink the water from Pass Lake, to keep pets and livestock away and to avoid areas of scum when boating.

Fishermen using belly or pontoon boats need to avoid bare hand, face and mouth contact with the water and to wash their hands and rinse waders well after fishing.

Blue-green algae can produce nerve and liver toxins which can make people and animals ill, with symptoms including tingling, lip numbness, diarrhea and stomach pain. Animals may have difficulty walking and suffer convulsions, according to the Health Department.

Some of the signs for a toxic algae bloom include rashes on people who have been in the water and sudden sickness or death in pets who have been in contact with algae.

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