Health officials urge caution after toxic algae found

MOUNT VERNON, Wash. -- A potentially toxic algae that thrives in warm weather is being seen in Big Lake, Washington.

The Skagit Valley Herald reports Skagit County Public Health urges caution against contact with the water.

While the toxin levels in water samples taken Aug. 15 and Aug. 20 were not yet concerning to human and animal health, the local health department said in a statement Friday that conditions can change rapidly.

Health officials say when toxins produced by the algae reach certain levels, exposure to the water or contaminated fish can cause nerve or liver poisoning, resulting in illness for humans and potentially death for animals.

The county is urging people to avoid contact with the water, keep pets away from the water, and gut and wash fish well before consuming.