The Department of Ecology has found toxic cyanobacteria, or blue-green algae, in the Burbank area.
The seaweed was discovered at the McNary National Wildlife Refuge in Walla Walla County in swamps 3 and 4 which are east and west of Lake Road. The sanctuary is a popular location for waterfowl hunters due to its use by migratory birds.
The bacteria can be deadly to people and animals, according to the Walla Walla Community Health Department.
Due to the toxicity levels, the US Fish and Wildlife Service has closed the refuge’s lake out of an abundance of caution, according to a news release.
According to the Department of Community Health, people and animals can be exposed to cyanotoxins by swimming or doing other water activities, drinking water containing toxins, breathing in tiny droplets in the air containing toxins or by eating fish or shellfish containing toxins. .
Symptoms of exposure can include stomach pain, headache, neurological symptoms such as muscle weakness and dizziness, vomiting, diarrhea, and liver damage.
Anyone visiting McNary should avoid swimming, fishing, boating, or any other water-related activity until toxicity levels are deemed safe. The toxin can stay in the water for a week after flowering has finished.
Although the lake is not directly connected to the Columbia or Snake Rivers, it is nearby and there are many smaller bodies of water between the lake and the Snake River. Last year, toxic algae was found in the Columbia River for the first time.
For more information, please visit: nwtoxicalgae.org
People who see water in Benton and Franklin counties that may be toxic algae — not only in the Columbia River, but also in the Snake and Yakima rivers — can report it to the Benton Franklin Health District, which will perform additional testing if any issues are suspected. Dial 509-460-4205.
You should avoid water that looks frothy, frothy, pea-green, thick like paint, blue-green, or reddish, depending on the health district.
There is no way to know if water is toxic without testing.
Exposure of people and animals can occur while swimming in water, with symptoms such as irritation of the skin, eyes, nose, throat and lungs.
People are advised to rinse themselves and their pets immediately after exposure to potentially contaminated water.
Ingestion of contaminated water can cause symptoms such as stomach pain, headache, vomiting, and muscle weakness or dizziness. It is recommended to consult a doctor.
People are also advised not to fish for a few weeks after an algae bloom. If you plan to eat fish caught in lakes with algal blooms, remove the tripe and liver and rinse the fillets before eating, the health district says.
To search for places in Washington State with current algal blooms, go to nwtoxicalgae.org. Information can also be found on the Benton Franklin Health District website, bfhd.wa.govby searching for “toxic algae”.
Journalist Annette Cary contributed to this report.