RIO ARRIBA COUNTY, N.M. (KRQE) – A toxic algae responsible for killing at least five dogs across the country has been found in two New Mexico lakes.
Abiquiu Lake is shut down as of Wednesday night, and staff are monitoring another blue-green algae bloom at Elephant Butte.
“We saw that pea soup, or kind of lime green, that kinda raised the red flag and we got it tested,” said John Mueller, with the US Army Corps of Engineers at Abiquiu Lake.
Mueller says they made the call to shut down the lake on Monday after water tested positive for the toxic algae that’d they’d been hearing about in the news. The algae has killed five dogs, in North Carolina, Georgia, and Texas.
“That was all on our minds,” said Mueller.
This is the first time the algae has been found at Abiquiu Lake. At Elephant Butte lake, the State Parks Department says there is a patch of the algae on the north end of the lake and they are monitoring it.
“I think we hear about it a lot more in places like Florida, but it appears to be all over the country this year,” said Misha Goodman, the Director of the Bernalillo County Animal Care Services.
At the beginning of the summer, New Mexico State Parks warned lake-goers about possible algae blooms along shorelines, in shallow, warm water. Now, that it’s here, Bernalillo County officials are warning pet owners to stay away.
“For a dog, in particular, just licking up a little bit of this can cause death,” said Goodman.
The algae can almost instantly cause flu-like symptoms as it attacks the body’s liver, often sickening dogs within 30 minutes.
“Even then, the prognosis is not good for dogs who make it to the vet and get treatment,” said Goodman.
There have been no direct reports of sick humans or animals in New Mexico and officials want o keep it that way. The algae is also especially dangerous for kids.
“We just wanted to be extra cautious,” said Mueller.
Mueller says after further testing, they are planning to reopen Abiquiu lake for boating on Thursday.