Texas August 11, 2019
A Toxic Blue-Green Algae Bloom Has Killed 4 Dogs In Texas’ Lady Bird Lake This Summer
We’re used to
terrifying bugs taking over Texas, but not silent killers that lurk in the water. A toxic blue green algae bloom in Austin’s Lady Bird Lake has already claimed the lives of four dogs, likely because symptoms usually become apparent after it’s already too late.
In a tragic turn of events, four dogs have died over the past week after swimming in Austin's Lady Bird Lake. The pets presumably died after ingesting toxic blue-green algae, which two samples take from Red Bud Isle tested positive for.
Algae blooms are typically a greenish color due to the organisms' photosynthetic pigments, however they can take on a variety of colors. These phenomena can be grouped into two categories: freshwater and harmful.
Freshwater blooms usually consist of cyanobacteria, a microorganism that produces substances toxic to the brain and liver. These noxious chemicals can cause respiratory failure in animals, while humans experience less life-threatening side effects such as rashes, gastric distress, fever, headache, and eye irritation.
Dogs usually begin showing symptoms within minutes, but it can take up to several hours. Look out for excessive drooling, vomiting, diarrhea, foaming at the mouth, bloody urine, jaundice, stumbling, loss of appetite, abdominal tenderness, and muscle twitches.
In terms of what causes these blooms, experts haven't been able to pinpoint a single catalyst. Instead, the consensus is that a myriad of factors - both natural and resulting from human activities - could be responsible for the toxic algae. Coastal water pollution is one of the most commonly implicated man-made contributions.
Global warming is also suspected to play a role. Surface temperatures of lakes have risen by .34 degrees Celsius per decade between 1985 and 2009 during the summertime, an epidemic which helps foster the growth of algae. Blooms are anticipated to increase by 20% over the next century.
The toxin appears to be localized to Red Bud Isle, which has been closed. Even still, city officials advise Austin residents to steer clear of Lady Bird Lake as a whole until further notice.
For more information, visit the City of Austin’s
website or Facebook page.
Did you know about the toxic algae bloom? Let us know your thoughts!