SALEM – The Oregon Health Authority has issued a recreational use advisory for the Willow Creek Reservoir just east of Heppner due to a cyanobacteria bloom and concerning levels of cyanotoxins. People are urged to avoid swimming and taking part in high-speed water activities until the advisory is lifted to avoid ingestion of tainted water.
Children and pets are at increased risk for exposure because of their size and activity level. Dogs can get extremely ill and even die within minutes to hours of exposure to cyanotoxins. In addition, people are urged not to drink water taken directly from areas of the late affected by a bloom. Toxins cannot be removed by boiling, filtering or treating water with camp-style filters.
Exposure to cyanotoxins can cause a wide range of symptoms. They range from stomach cramps to shortness of breath. Canines can experience difficulty in walking, seizures, weakness, and lethargy. The symptoms do require medical attention as soon as possible.
Fish caught from areas where blooms are present could pose health risks. OHA recommends not eating the fish. For those who decide to eat it anyway, it should have fat, skin and organs removed and be washed with clean water.