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Stay out of the water at Lacamas Lake and Vancouver Lake, health officials say

The two lakes have elevated levels of toxins in the water, according to Clark County Public Health.
Credit: KGW
Lacamas Lake in Clark County, Washington.

CLARK COUNTY, Wash. — Health officials in Clark County have advised people to stay out of the water and avoid all water recreation activities at Lacamas Lake because of elevated levels of cyanotoxins in the water.

Lacamas Lake is a 25-mile drive from Portland, about 3 miles north of Camas.

CCPH said people should avoid all kinds of recreation in the lake, including swimming, kayaking, paddle boarding, canoeing, water skiing and fishing. Pets should avoid any contact with the water as cyanotoxins can be fatal to pets that drink the water. 

Results from water samples taken Monday revealed high levels of toxins, according to Clark County Public Health (CCPH). Danger signs will be posted at the boat launch, entry to Heritage trail and other public areas where the lake can be accessed.

Alyssa Payne, the environmental health specialist for Clark County, said blooms of cyanobacteria, also known as blue-algae, can't be seen on the water's surface but that doesn't mean people should think the water is safe.

"We’re concerned people may think the lake is safe for recreating because they don’t see any of the telltale blue-green scum," Payne said. "The water may look normal, but the toxin levels are high."

Heritage Park at Lacamas Lake remains open and the water in park restrooms and shelters isn't affected by the lake water and is safe to drink, according to CCPH.

RELATED: Vancouver Lake swimming beach reopened after two-week closure

Results from water samples taken at Vancouver Lake on Monday also showed elevated toxin levels.

Unlike Lacamas Lake, blue-green algae is visible at Vancouver Lake. Health officials said people should avoid swimming or water skiing in Vancouver Lake. Paddle boarding, kayaking and canoeing are still OK at Vancouver Lake, health officials said, because areas where blue-green algae is present can be avoided.

People who fish at Vancouver Lake should make sure to clean the fish well and throw away the organs.

If toxins from blue-green algae are ingested, inhaled or come into contact with the skin, it can cause wheezing, coughing, chest tightness, shortness of breath, rash, itching, blisters and eye irritation.

If a person accidentally swallows water with cyanotoxins, it can cause abdominal pain, diarrhea, vomiting, numbness of the lips, tingling in the fingers and toes, and dizziness.

RELATED: Health advisory lifted for ocean water at Seaside Beach

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