Photo:  Winchester Lake State Park

WINCHESTER - Idaho North Central District of Public Health in cooperation with the Nez Perce Tribe are issuing a public health advisory today for Winchester Lake. Residents are urged to use caution when recreating in or near the water. 

Recent samples taken by the Nez Perce Tribe Water Resources Division show elevated levels of toxins, produced by cyanobacteria or blue-green algae, which can be harmful to people, pets, and livestock. Those with existing liver or kidney damage are most at risk.

When recreating near or in any surface with a health advisory in effect, you should take extra precautions such as avoiding swimming, wading, or other activities, and not to drink or cook with water containing a bloom. Boiling and filtering the water can increase the risk. Wash your hands thoroughly after handling fish caught in water experiencing a bloom. Cyanotoxins can accumulate in fish and the risk to people is being researched. Any fish caught should be cleaned and washed thoroughly in uncontaminated water and any internal organs disposed of before consumption.

Symptoms of cyanotoxin exposure include rashes, hives, diarrhea, vomiting, coughing, and/or wheezing. More severe symptoms affecting the liver and nervous system may result from ingesting water. If symptoms persist, consult your healthcare provider.