Nebraska August 21, 2019
The Toxic Blue-Green Algae Responsible For Killing Dogs Around The U.S. Has Been Found In Nebraska
Being out in the water is one of the summer’s greatest pleasures, especially here in Nebraska where lakes and rivers abound. We’ve still got a few weeks left of summer this year, but you’ll want to be careful when taking your pets to enjoy a day at the lake.
Three Nebraska lakes are currently under Health Alerts following the discovery of high levels of toxic blue-green algae, also known as Harmful Algal Blooms.
The toxic blue-green algae typically displays a characteristic blue-green color, but can sometimes be green, brown or red. Affected lakes usually have large surface growths of algae which can look like clumps, streaks, or scum, and the water will smell foul. You may also see unusual foam on the shore.
The algae produces a toxin called Microcystin which is harmful to humans and animals.
Any concentration of Microcystin greater than 20 parts per billion in the water results in a Health Alert. More than 50 Nebraska lakes are tested weekly from May 1 to September 30 every year, and if the Microcystin levels reach dangerous levels, the public warning lasts until levels have dropped below the threshold for two consecutive weeks.
During times of high algae bloom activity, swimming beaches are closed and activities like water skiing are prohibited.
The toxic blue-green algae is particularly harmful to pets. In the summer of 2019, several dog deaths have been reported in different states after the dogs were exposed to toxic algae. Even a single mouthful of the contaminated water can prove lethal.
Keep in mind that not all lake algae is harmful.
Some lake algae is perfectly normal and harmless. Keep an eye out to see if the algae you spot has any of the characteristics mentioned above. If you see it, stay away - and make sure your pets do the same.
As of August 20, three Nebraska lakes have Microcystin levels that are higher than the 20 ppb threshold.
The lakes currently affected are Rockford Lake (at Rockford Lake State Recreation Area in Gage County), Willow Creek Reservoir (at Willow Creek Recreation Area in Pierce County), and Wagon Train Lake (at Wagon Train SRA in Lancaster County).
You can keep up to date with the weekly Microcystin measurements on the Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality’s website