JOHN DAY – The Forest Service is advising visitors to avoid contact with waters from Yellowjacket Lake due to a possible algae bloom.

The lake is northwest of Burns, off Forest Road 37.

Doug Jones, Emigrant Creek District Ranger, said the advisory applies to humans, pets (especially dogs), and livestock.

This includes any contact with the water, such as swimming or drinking.

Contact with water containing high levels of blue-green algae may cause skin rashes, mouth ulcers, fevers, ear and eye irritations, diarrhea, vomiting, or death in extreme cases.

Following are some answers to common questions about algae blooms.

• What is blue-green algae?

Blue-green algae is a simple, single-celled organism that is naturally occurring in freshwater systems. Normally, blue-green algae is an important part of a healthy ecosystem and harmless in low numbers. However, in high concentrations, blue-green algae produce harmful levels of toxins.

• Why are the fish dying ?

Fish die in one of two ways; either from toxins produced by the algae, or from the lack of oxygen due to large amounts of decomposing algae.

• Are the fish safe to eat?

Toxins do not build up in the muscle tissue of fish and should be safe to eat. But catch and release is recommended until algae levels decrease.

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