Vancouver Lake swim beach remains closed

Tests continue to reveal elevated levels of E. coli bacteria

VANCOUVER — Routine water quality testing at Vancouver Lake this week revealed elevated levels of E. coli bacteria. The swim beach at the lake is currently closed due to elevated levels of cyanotoxins in the water.

Vancouver Lake swim beach remains closed
Tests continue to reveal elevated levels of E. coli bacteria in Vancouver Lake. As a result, the swim beach remains closed. Photo by Mike Schultz

The Vancouver Lake swim beach will remain closed until tests show cyanotoxins and E. coli bacteria levels do not exceed thresholds. Closure signs are currently posted at the swim beach and other public access points to the lake.

Clark County Public Health continues to advise against all recreating in the lake, including swimming, kayaking, paddle boarding, canoeing and water skiing.

Public Health has been monitoring cyanobacteria blooms at Vancouver Lake since June 12 and closed the swim beach on Wednesday after results revealed cyanotoxins above recommended threshold levels.

On Monday, Public Health staff collected two sets of water samples from Vancouver Lake to test for bacteria and cyanotoxins. Results from water samples testing for bacteria came back today and showed elevated levels of E. coli bacteria. Results are pending for water samples collected to test for cyanotoxins. Those results are expected later this week.

Public Health will continue to monitor the water at Vancouver Lake and update advisories as conditions change. Current advisories are posted on the Public Health public beaches website.

Potential health risks

Blue-green algae can pose a significant health risk if the cyanobacteria or toxins are ingested, inhaled or come into contact with skin. Inhaled bacteria or toxins can cause wheezing, coughing, chest tightness and shortness of breath. Skin contact can lead to rash, itching, blisters and eye irritation.

If water with cyanotoxins is accidentally swallowed, symptoms can include abdominal pain, diarrhea, vomiting, numbness of the lips, tingling in fingers and toes, and dizziness. The toxins can be fatal to pets that drink the water.

The presence of E. coli in Vancouver Lake water indicates that the water may contain bacteria found in animal or human feces. Some of these bacteria are capable of causing severe gastrointestinal illness.

Depending on the cause, people with gastrointestinal infections may experience fever, abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting and/or diarrhea beginning several hours to several days or longer after exposure. Some infections may cause bloody diarrhea.

Information provided by Clark Co. WA Communications.

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