The City of Austin has detected the presence of Dihydroanatoxin-a, a potent neurotoxin, in an algae sample taken on Monday, July 11, 2022, from “Barking Springs,” the part of Barton Creek immediately downstream from Barton Springs Pool. On July 10, a dog died after swimming in this area. The presence of this toxin increases the likelihood that the dog was killed by accidentally ingesting harmful algae. Dihydroanatoxin-a is the same toxin that was present in algae in 2019 when several dogs died after swimming in Lady Bird Lake.
Because of the rapidly flowing water, Barking Springs is less likely to have a harmful algae bloom than slower-moving waterways. However, the harmful algae was found next to and attached to rocks in pockets of still water outside of the main path of the water. It underscores the fact that harmful algae can be present in any natural waterway in Central Texas.
No toxins were detected in the water sample. As long as the toxins are only found in the algae, exposure would occur by handling or ingesting algae. Ingestion of toxins in algae may be fatal. Dogs may be exposed by drinking the water, eating the algae or licking it off their fur. People can have symptoms from these toxins as well. Because humans are less likely to ingest the algae, the risk is lower.
People should not drink or ingest water directly from Central Texas lakes or from any springs or creeks. Do not get in the water or allow your pets to swim or drink the water if it is warm or stagnant or if you see scum, film or mats of algae. It is always a good idea for both people and pets to rinse off after going for a swim.
Protect your dogs from exposure to harmful algae by keeping them away from areas that are known to have harmful algae blooms. Earlier this summer, the City of Austin also detected toxins in algae samples at all monitoring locations on Lady Bird Lake, including Red Bud Isle, Auditorium Shores and Edward Rendon Sr. Metro Park, and at Emma Long Metropolitan Park on Lake Austin.
If you or a family member or pet have sudden, unexplained illness after swimming or signs of poisoning, call your medical provider or veterinarian right away or the Texas Poison Control Center at 1-800-222-1222. You may also report the suspected exposure to harmful algae to the City of Austin using English or Spanish forms available at AustinTexas.gov/Algae.