Health Officials: Water at McNary Wildlife Refuge
Do not swim in, fish out of, boat in or drink the water at McNary National Wildlife Refuge, in sloughs 3 and 4, health officials said Wednesday, Sept 7.
Staff with Walla Walla County Department of Community Health said they were notified in August by the Washington State Department of Ecology that cyanobacteria, known as blue-green algae, was discovered at the refuge, which was then closed in the affected area.
"Blue-green algae can appear throughout the year in many Washington lakes and rivers, but it most often develops in summer and early fall when there's a wealth of warm, calm water, and sunlight. While many blue-green blooms are non-toxic, some produce nerve or liver toxins," according to the state department.
"As cyanobacteria cells die, toxins are released into surrounding waters. Some toxins, called microcystins, are very stable and can remain in the water for several days after the bloom has disappeared. Microcystin is found most often in the scum floating on top of the water."
The stuff floating on water that resembles green pea soup, however, needs to be steered clear of, officials noted.
Repeat testing continues to show elevated levels of cyanobacteria at McNary, and the area will remain closed and the situation will continue to be monitored.
Cyanobacteria can be harmful to people and fatal to animals. In their toxic form, blue-green algae can kill pets, waterfowl and other animals, plus cause serious illness to humans.
People and animals can be exposed to cyanotoxins by skin contact with contaminated water while swimming or doing other activities in the water, drinking the water, breathing in water droplets that contain toxins or eating fish or shellfish from such water.
Exposure can result in stomach pain, headache, neurological symptoms -- like muscle weakness or dizziness -- vomiting, diarrhea and liver damage.
learn more on topics covered in the film
see the video
read the script
learn the songs