The City of Austin has been notified that a dog died within an hour of swimming at “Barking Springs,” on Sunday, July 10, 2022. Barking Springs is the part of Barton Creek immediately downstream from Barton Springs Pool. The cause of death is unknown, but exposure to toxic algae is a possibility.
City scientists observed a few isolated mats of algae near rocks in this area and have taken samples for testing. Earlier this summer, the City of Austin detected toxins in algae samples at all monitoring locations on Lady Bird Lake and at Emma Long Metropolitan Park on Lake Austin. No toxins have been detected in water samples.
The City of Austin continues to remind people that harmful algae may be present in any natural water body in Central Texas at any time. Given the very hot temperatures and drought conditions, harmful algae could easily be present in any creek, lake or pond at this time. Harmful algae is more likely along shorelines and in pockets of warm, still water.
As long as toxins are only found in algae samples, as opposed to water samples, exposure could only occur by handling or ingesting algae. Ingestion of toxins in algae may be fatal in dogs. 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 but, because humans are less likely to ingest the algae, the risk is lower.
Do 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.
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.