DDPHE, Denver Parks Warn of Deadly Algae in Sloan’s Lake
Published on July 09, 2021
The Denver Department of Public Health & Environment (DDPHE) and Denver Parks & Recreation are sounding the alarm over potentially deadly blue-green algae detected at Sloan’s Lake.
DDPHE posted warning signs about the algae blooms around the popular lake yesterday after it tested the water and the results came back positive for the toxin. The signs advise park users not to let their pets in the water or drink it.
The cyanobacteria can poison not only dogs, cats, livestock, wildlife, birds, and fish, but also humans. It can cause neurologic problems and liver failure, leading to death.
The poisonous algae came to national attention two years ago when three dogs died in North Carolina after playing in a pond. Another dog died after a swim in a lake in Georgia. But a study shows dogs have been dying from the algae for more than 90 years.
The risk comes from dogs drinking the toxic water or licking the toxins off their fur.
Water containing the toxic algal blooms look like pea-green paint or slime on the surface. It typically develops when the weather has been warm (over 75 degrees) and sunny. Wind will often concentrate the algae along the shoreline in areas where animals may drink or swim.
Toxic algae also often stink, sometimes producing a nauseating smell that attracts animals.
If your dog gets into a harmful bloom, rinse your pet off immediately with fresh, clean water. And, if you’ve been in contact with the bloom, immediately wash with soap and water.
If your pet has been poisoned by the algae, it’ll show symptoms anywhere from 15 minutes to several days, including diarrhea or vomiting, weakness or staggering, drooling, difficulty breathing and convulsions or seizures.
Pets can die within hours of consuming the algae. People can get sick and experience symptoms including a headache, diarrhea, weakness, and liver damage.
The algae tend to persist along the shoreline and in the marina and less so in the middle of the lake. DDPHE will continue to assess the level of toxins at the lake’s center to assure it is still safe for other uses. And while fishing is allowed, users are asked to rinse their fish well and discard the guts.
Also, motorized boating has not been allowed on Sloan’s Lake this year due to an environmental study to better understand the impacts of recreational activities on the lake. Non-motorized craft such as canoes, paddleboards, and kayaks are still allowed. As with most other urban water bodies that are warm and shallow, we strongly encourage anyone in contact with the water to avoid algae mats and to follow proper hygiene (hand washing and/or disinfectant) upon leaving the water.
DDPHE believes the algae blooms will remain in the lake for at least another month or until temperatures start to cool.
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