Health & Medicine

Watch your dogs, don’t drink the water: Toxic algae spotted at Elk Grove’s Camden Lakes

Warnings of toxic blue-green algae blooms are proliferating as warmer weather hits California.
Warnings of toxic blue-green algae blooms are proliferating as warmer weather hits California. rbenton@sacbee.com

A popular Elk Grove neighborhood destination has tested positive for the toxic blue-green algae that fatally sickened dogs across the country this summer.

Parks officials continue to investigate the harmful algal blooms spotted in lakes in Elk Grove’s Camden Passage neighborhood, Cosumnes Community Services District, or CSD, officials said Wednesday.

Though swimming, boating and dogs are not allowed at Camden by CSD rule, officials with the district are telling people to be safe, avoid the water, secure their pets and prevent them from swimming in or drinking from the lakes.

District officials were tipped to the blue-green algae by a resident who photographed the blooms on Labor Day, said Jenna Brinkman, a district spokeswoman. District officials reported the sighting to state water officials. Test results in recent days at the man-made lake revealed the presence of toxic cyanobacteria, Brinkman said.

Signs have since been posted around the lake and parks officials are testing the water weekly for cyanobacteria, Cosumnes officials said. Meantime, district officials have been in contact with Camden’s neighborhood association and other residents, Brinkman said.

The lake, part of Laguna Creek, is located in an area bordered roughly by Bond and Elk Grove-Florin roads in east Elk Grove.

The algal blooms thrive in stagnant or slow-moving water, fed by summer heat and nutrients from agricultural or septic runoff. The blooms can look soupy on the water, and appear as scum or bubbling foam or mats, as at Auburn’s Oregon Bar, where water warnings were issued for Labor Day.

Health officials say dogs and children are the most vulnerable because of their size and because they are more apt to swallow the contaminated water or algae, state water officials said.

Dogs’ symptoms include loss of appetite, loss of energy, vomiting, stumbling and falling, foaming at the mouth, diarrhea, convulsions, excessive drooling, tremors and seizures, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Camden isn’t the only Elk Grove-area waterway that has been hit by the blue-green algae in recent months.

The Stone Lakes National Wildlife Refuge staff have canceled paddle boat tours until they determine the water is safe from the toxic algae. The refuge’s waters were also the site of similar blooms in 2017.

State and local officials have kept a watchful eye on the potentially deadly cyanobacteria after reports of pet poisonings at Folsom Lake and Auburn’s Oregon Bar on the North Fork of the American River.

A dog died in late July after swimming in the waters at Oregon Bar, though because its death was not reported to officials until weeks later, what killed the dog remains unknown.

But following the scares, State Parks officials issued warnings for Labor Day weekend at Moony Ridge in the Folsom State Recreation Area and Oregon Bar to watch for the harmful algal blooms.

In California, state water officials received 190 reports of potential blooms in 2018. State and local agencies posted approximately 145 public health alerts in waters statewide, according to California Water Boards officials.

And in Santa Rosa on Monday, a dog died a day after swimming at a local park notorious for a number of public health warnings, the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat reported Wednesday.

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