PORTLAND, Ore. (PORTLAND TRIBUNE) — Before you take the plunge into Memorial Day weekend, the Oregon Health Authority wants to remind residents to be cautious of toxic cyanobacteria or blue-green algae. These algae blooms often appear around the same time each year, as warm weather and sunlight typically produce ideal conditions for their bloom.

According to OHA, toxic cyanobacteria can be found in lakes, rivers and reservoirs all over the world. Affected bodies of water can sometimes look foamy, scummy, or appear to have blue-green paint floating on the surface. Even when you can’t see a bloom, some toxins can still be present in the water, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

While many blooms are harmless, people can be exposed to toxic algae blooms by accidentally swallowing contaminated water while swimming, wakeboarding or enjoying other recreational activities. Exposure can lead to diarrhea, cramps, vomiting, numbness, dizziness and fainting. Some people can develop a red rash on their skin. Although there are no reports of people dying from cyanobacteria exposure, many dogs have died after they swam in or drank water containing cyanobacterial toxins. The CDC recommends rinsing your dog if you think they’ve been exposed and if they start to experience symptoms, see a vet as soon as possible.

It is important to note that there is no statewide monitoring system for toxic algae blooms in Oregon. The OHA says cyanotoxin monitoring is not legally required. Instead, it is done on a voluntary basis by the different agencies that manage the waterways across Oregon.

Although cyanobacteria have been documented for more than 100 years, scientists report seeing longer and more frequent toxic blooms due to increased temperatures, less snowpack and lower water levels associated with climate change.

Read the full story on the Portland Tribune’s website.

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