A harmful algal bloom has been spotted at the Vancouver Lake swim beach, according to Clark County Public Health.
Between Memorial Day and Labor Day, Public Health routinely monitors designated local swim beaches for bacterial contaminants and harmful algal blooms.
At its first inspection of Vancouver Lake on May 31, a Public Health team spotted the algal bloom. The team collected water samples to determine toxin levels. Samples have been sent to a lab, and results should be back later this week.
If the samples show elevated levels of cyanobacteria, also known as blue-green algae, then Public Health will issue a danger advisory to deter swimming and other recreational activities at the lake.
Blue-green algae can pose a significant health risk if the cyanobacteria or toxins are ingested, inhaled or come into contact with skin. Inhaled bacteria or toxins can cause wheezing, coughing, chest tightness and shortness of breath. Skin contact can lead to rash, itching, blisters and eye irritation.
If water with cyanobacteria is accidentally swallowed, symptoms can include abdominal pain, diarrhea, vomiting, numbness of the lips, tingling in fingers and toes and dizziness. The toxins can kill pets that drink the water.
Until the samples return from the lab, Public Health recommends avoiding all areas of floating scum at Vancouver Lake, which includes avoiding contact while swimming, keeping kids away, not boating or kayaking, avoiding fishing and not letting pets go into or drink the water. Pets also should not be allowed to eat clumps of scum on the shore.
“We will continue to monitor the bloom at Vancouver Lake and collect weekly water samples to test for toxins as long as the bloom is present,” said Marissa Armstrong, Public Health spokeswoman. “If test results show elevated toxin levels, we will post an advisory at the lake.”
For current advisory information, visit clark.wa.gov/public-health/public-beaches.