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Oregon health officials extended the warning from the Cathedral Park area of the river to Willamette Cove.

COURTESY PHOTO: OREGON HEALTH AUTHORITY - A water sample taken from the Willamette River near Cathedral Park contains cyanobacteria from a toxic algal bloom.State officials have expanded a recreational use health advisory due to an ongoing toxic algal bloom in the Willamette River near Portland's St. Johns neighborhood.

People and pets should not swim or participate in high-speed water activities in the river from the Cathedral Park area south to Willamette Cove near the SP&S Railroad Bridge, said Oregon Health Authority officials in a statement Friday, Aug. 26.

The agency issued its original advisory on Aug. 17 after blue-green algae, called cyanobacteria, was found in the river near Cathedral Park at levels unsafe for human exposure.

Cyanobacteria produce harmful chemicals known as cyanotoxins, which, if ingested, can cause poisoning and acute illness. The effects can sometimes be fatal.

High-speed water activities such as water skiing or power boating can spray water, increasing the risk of ingesting cyanotoxins.

Symptoms of exposure may be similar to food poisoning, with people having stomach cramps, diarrhea, nausea and vomiting, officials said. More serious symptoms can include numbness, tingling, dizziness and shortness of breath. Symptoms may require medical attention.

Cyanotoxins are not absorbed through the skin, but people with skin sensitivities can develop a puffy rash if exposed, officials said.

Children and pets are at increased risk for exposure because of their size and levels of activity.

"Dogs can get extremely ill and even die within minutes to hours of exposure to cyanotoxins by drinking the water, licking their wet fur or eating the toxins from floating mats or dried crust along the shore," officials said.

Dogs can experience symptoms including drooling, weakness, difficulty walking, convulsions or seizures, lethargy and loss of appetite. People should seek veterinary treatment as quickly as possible if a dog exhibits any of those symptoms, officials said.

The toxins cannot be removed by boiling, filtering or treating water with camping filters, making drinking water directly from affected areas especially dangerous.

Officials will continue collecting water samples from the river to better define the health advisory or lift the warnings.

The bloom and associated toxins may have originated upstream beyond Willamette Cove, spreading downstream past the area of Cathedral Park, officials warned. They recommend people keep an eye out for visible signs of bloom in other areas of the river and stay out of the water in locations with visible scum.

It's unknown when the advisory will be lifted because algal blooms may last for weeks or months, officials said. Blooms occur in warm, stagnant water and can last until weather or rain sufficiently cools water or creates higher river flow.

For more information, or to report potential exposure, pet owners should visit healthoregon.org/hab, call 877-290-6767 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


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