There is a permanent recreational use advisory at the South Umpqua River and Lawson Bar for algae that can harm people and pets.
Cyanobacteria, or blue-green algae, has been known to develop in the pools of water inside bedrock along the South Umpqua River, according to the Oregon Health Authority.
Dogs have died from drinking the water, and it can cause serious illness in people from the toxins the algae produces. If your pet does go into the water, don’t let it lick its fur and wash your pet with clean water as soon as possible. If your pet has symptoms such as drooling, weakness, vomiting, staggering and convulsions after being in bloom-affected water, call your vet immediately.
Symptoms in humans typically include skin irritation, diarrhea, vomiting and dizziness.
A sign from the Oregon Health Authority for the site reads “When in doubt, stay out: don’t go in water that is scummy, thick like paint, pea-green or blue-green.”
Fishing in affected waters could also pose potential problems, according to the state. Eating fish from affected waters comes with unknown health risks. There have been no reports of people becoming sick from eating fish caught during a bloom, but there has been no definitive research that looks at the potential risks.
“It is known that some algae toxins have been found to accumulate in fish tissues, and particularly in the internal organs such as the liver and kidneys. Toxin accumulation studies suggest that the muscle (fillet) tissue is less affected by algae toxins,” according to a safety brochure released by the state. “If you decide to eat fish caught from waters affected by a blue-green algae bloom, remove the fat, skin and organs before cooking. Be careful not to cut into the organs. Before cooking or freezing the fish, rinse the fillets with clean water to remove any contaminants from the cleaning process.”