Cyanobacteria in Stillhouse Hollow Lake Kill Local Pet | KWKT

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BELL COUNTY, Texas – A local woman mourns the death of her dog after a trip to Stillhouse Hollow Lake.

Dog owner Lauren Birdwell drove to Chalk Ride Falls Park with her dog Autumn on Saturday morning. Autumn played in the water and drank it. As she emerged from the water, Autumn began to act funny.

“Literally no less than, like, 30 seconds later it was like her legs had given up on her and she fell,” Birdwell said. “I looked at my friend and thought to myself, ‘This doesn’t look right. “”

The fall began to have seizures, her heart rate dropped, and she had difficulty breathing.

“It changed in what seemed like seconds,” Birdwell said. “One second she was running around smiling, playing with the other dogs, seemed to be fine, and then all of a sudden she wasn’t.”

Autumn had to be euthanized because of her condition.

The veterinarian and the US Army Corps of Engineers suspect the cause is an aquatic organism, which in some cases can produce toxins that are potentially fatal to animals and humans.

The animal does not only have to drink water. If they put it on their fur and lick each other, it can be just as dangerous.

Baylor biology professor Thad Scott said this type of cyanobacteria is very common. Usually, they don’t flower enough to produce toxins. Plus, even when they bloom, they don’t always produce toxins.

“They are all over all of our waters all the time,” Scott said.

To produce the toxins, bacteria must grow fast enough to flower. They bloom in warm, slow, nutrient-dense water.

Birdwell urges pet owners to be careful with the water, “Find another way to bring your dog into the water during the summer to cool him off rather than some of these natural or man-made lakes.”

Birdwell and the US Army Corps of Engineers urge pet owners to be careful of water bodies. Chalk Ridge Falls Park is temporarily closed and lake staff are working to sample the water to determine if it was cyanobacteria.

The US Army Corps of Engineers also recommends that people and animals stay out of the water with visible color surface films, layers of scum, and / or algae mats. It is also best to avoid stagnant areas where there is little or no water movement and where the water has a bad odor.

Also, they recommend controlling your pet with a leash six feet or less.


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