Public Health officials are advising people and their pets to avoid swimming in lakes, rivers or ponds with visible algae blooms. The advisory comes after a dog swam in the Sacramento River at Sand Cove Park and died.
Algae blooms are rare in Sacramento County. This is the first reported case of a dog dying locally.
John Rogers with the County Environmental Management Department says the drought is creating ideal conditions for algae growth.
“Lower water levels in the rivers slows the river down, and then creates greater area for blue-green algae to bloom. Lack of rain means more sun for longer periods and there's been warmer temperatures.”
Rogers advises against swimming in abnormally colored water with foam, scum or algae strings. He says exposure could cause a rash, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. In large quantities, the toxins can also cause neurological or liver damage and lead to death.
“The risk is greater to dogs, they’re less discriminating and they’re going to go out in the water and possibly drink the water," says Rogers. "Or, get it on their fur, and then they’ll lick their fur when they get out of the water and so they’ll ingest the toxins that way.”
He suggests seeing a doctor or a vet immediately if you or your pet gets sick.