ANDREWS, Ind. (AP) — Indiana residents are being urged to protect themselves
and their pets from water in some of the state’s lakes after the deaths of
two dogs that swam in a reservoir tainted by toxic algae.
Officials with the state Board of Animal Health told WANE-TV that blue-green
algae is likely what caused two dogs belonging to Larry and Marge Young to
die last week about 24 hours after the Wabash couple let them play in
northern Indiana’s Salamonie Reservoir.
They told The Journal Gazette that their two other dogs were sickened by the
lake’s water and are currently taking medication to combat liver problems
caused by the toxin. The Youngs are hopeful their surviving dogs will pull
through. “This is new to us. It’s a hard lesson to learn,” Marge Young said
of the toxic algae.
The Indiana Department of Environmental Management has found high levels of
the algae in seven Indiana lakes, including Salamonie, where record levels
were discovered. The other lakes are Raccoon Lake, Hardy Lake, Brookville
Lake, Whitewater Lake, Sand Lake and Worster Lake.
“We have not seen levels this high,” said Cyndi Wagner of IDEM’s Office of
The algae feed on phosphorus, a common ingredient in fertilizer and animal
waste. Hot and dry weather, overfertilization of lawns and runoff from
livestock farms all contribute to the algae’s growth, said IDEM spokesman
“The blue-green algae problem we have in a lot of our lakes and reservoirs
is strictly due to overfertilizing in our watersheds,” Wagner said.
The state Department of Natural Resources said some blue-green algae produce
toxins that can cause rashes, skin and eye irritation, nausea, stomachaches
and tingling fingers and toes. People who experience any of these symptoms
after boating or swimming should seek medical attention, the agency said in
a news release.
Dogs and other animals are particularly vulnerable to the algae because they
may drink the contaminated water or swallow it as they clean their coats.
Officials said people using lakes for recreation should avoid contact with
the scummy blooms that signify the presence of blue-green algae and should
avoid ingesting the water. They’re urged to wash with soap and water
afterward and contact a physician if they develop any symptoms of toxic
Blue-green algae is most often found in shallow water or coves and bays
where there is little water movement.
During summer, IDEM regularly tests for blue-green algae at 13 Indiana
lakes. If high levels of algae or toxins are documented, notices are posted
online and placed at the lakes until algae cell counts return to safe