Mecklenburg issues warning after dog-killing toxic algae found in south Charlotte park

Mecklenburg County issued a warning Friday for residents to stay away from ponds at more than a dozen parks after tests revealed a dog-killing toxic algae at a popular south Charlotte park.

Officials announced that testing Thursday at the pond in Park Road Park found the toxic version of blue-green algae. They said they would post warning signs at the park and 13 others across the county.

“Do not allow pets to enter or drink from any pond, and keep dogs on a leash to minimize the chance of coming into contact with the water,” county officials said, news partner WBTV reported.

Other park ponds being tested are: Freedom, Hornet’s Nest, Marshall, Beatty, Elon, Reedy Creek, McAlpine, Clarks Creek Nature Preserve, Ribbonwalk Nature Preserve, Sherman Branch Nature Preserve, Davie, Idlewild and Ezell Farm, WBTV reported.

The same algae was recently discovered at Robbins Park in Cornelius, prompting a similar advisory from the town leaders, according to an Aug. 14 Observer report.

There have been multiple reports of dogs dying days after swimming in lakes with blue-green algae, including three in Wilmington, the McClatchy Newsgroup reported.

Cyanobacteria are natural organisms present in most lakes but under certain circumstance bloom and release toxins.

Making contact with the algae “can cause rashes, skin and eye irritation, allergic reactions, gastrointestinal problems or, at high doses, serious illness or even death,” Cornelius officials have said.

According to the North Carolina Department of Public Health website, no documented cases exist of people being sickened by the algae. Still, blue-green algae blooms “can produce chemicals that are toxic to animals and people who drink the untreated water,” according to the site.

One obvious way to know the algae bloom may be toxic is if you see large numbers of dead fish or waterfowl, according to the Utah Department of Health.

Park officials said creeks and streams with flowing water are typically not impacted by toxic algae, WBTV reported.

In South Carolina, Lake Wateree, a recreation hot spot north of Columbia, is reported to have toxic levels of different algae, The State newspaper reported. The strain known as lyngbya attaches to the bottom of the lake, and at times, can float to the surface.

The algae can cause skin rashes and itching, and state regulators are warning swimmers to stay out of areas where the greenish, scummy material is visible in the water, according to The State.

“It’s advised that people and animals not enter water where there is a visible algae bloom,’’ DHEC spokeswoman Laura Renwick told The State. “Lake Wateree, like any natural water body, isn’t a sterile environment and the presence of harmful bacteria, viruses and other organisms that can cause illness is always a possibility.’’

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