After at least one report of sickness and the death of a dog that was swimming in the area, Buffalo Bill Reservoir is under investigation for cyanobacterial contamination near the boat club off Bartlett Lane.
Buffalo Bill State Park announced preliminary investigations do not indicate any contamination. However, the park advised visitors should use discretion in that area.
In the past, bodies of water in the area have become contaminated with cyanobacteria, also referred to as blue-green algae. These are microscopic organisms that live primarily in fresh water and salt water, at the surface and below, according to the Centers of Disease Control. They usually multiply and bloom when the water is warm, stagnant and rich in nutrients (phosphorus and nitrogen) from sources such as fertilizer runoff or septic tank overflows.
Cyanobacterial blooms are usually blue-green in color, but algal blooms can vary in color, ranging all the way to red or brown.
An algal overgrowth is referred to as an “algal bloom.” When a bloom occurs, scum (a layer of foul extraneous matter) might float on the water surface, resulting in a rotten plant-like odor. Blooms typically occur during late summer or early fall, but can occur anytime during the year.
Not all algal blooms are harmful.
The CDC said many factors determine whether exposure to cHABs will cause adverse health effects. These include toxin type, concentration, duration and route of exposure, and any comorbid conditions of the patient. Cyanotoxins can cause gastrointestinal, neural, hepatic or dermal toxicity.
Signs and symptoms reported after exposure also vary with the exposure route.
Gastrointestinal (GI) effects include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and mild liver enzyme elevations. The time to onset of GI symptoms after oral exposure is usually 3–5 hours and symptoms can last 1–2 days. Exposure can cause conjunctivitis, rhinitis, earache, sore throat, and swollen lips. Respiratory effects can include atypical pneumonia and a hay fever-like syndrome.
According to the CDC, domestic animals, especially dogs, may be early victims of a toxin-producing bloom. Dogs become engaged in outdoor activities and do not differentiate between clean or contaminated water. Effects seem to be more serious in animals than in humans. This might be the result of higher ingested doses or a difference in the reaction to toxins.
The most frequently reported symptoms in dogs exposed to cHABs are gastrointestinal, such as vomiting and foaming at the mouth. Exposure can also cause lethargy and neurologic symptoms, including stumbling, behavior changes, spastic twitching, loss of coordination, ataxia, violent tremors, partial paralysis and respiratory paralysis.
Hepatoenteritis, toxic liver injury, hepatic lesions with necrosis and petechial hemorrhages of the heart have been reported in animals. Exposure has caused death in fish, dogs, cattle and birds.