Dog dies after drinking Jordan Lake water, state conducting tests

DeJuan Hoggard Image
Monday, June 27, 2022
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Environmental health experts urge pet owners to keep their pets away from discolored water that may be green, blue, red, or sometimes brown.

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- This past weekend, Rick Cobb set off on a boating excursion with several other boaters, according to a comment he made on the NC Department of Environmental Quality's website. His group was near the Farrington Point boat launch ramp.

Early that evening, Cobb said a beagle in the group he was with began to experience respiratory problems, a fast heartrate, and bloating. In Cobb's citizens report to the agency, he said he believed the dog entered the early stages of cyanobacteria toxin poisoning due to her vomiting, liver failure, over salivating, eventual seizure, and untimely death -- all within in an hour.

"I have witnessed this before and can attest to my estimation that the fatality was caused by blue green algal bloom (cyanobacteria toxicity)," Cobb said in his complaint to the agency. "The origin of the bloom I did not witness personally, and the pet could have injested (ingested) a branch or log on the beach with the toxin. It is assumed that the water itself was contaminated, but we are considering any source for the cause."

The NCDEQ received the complaint and had the water sampled on Monday.

Jordan Lake regular, Bob Wehrenberg, takes his dog to the lake almost every day. However, after news of the weekend death, he's reconsidering how comfortable he and his dog will be with the water.

"Now that I've heard that, he's going to have to stay out of the water for a little bit until we find out what's going on out here," said Wehrenberg. "Right now, I think the most important thing is to get the word out to everybody that they know something is going on and have everybody be very cautious until we get a definitive answer from wildlife or whoever."

Other visitors to the lake Monday were surprised by the lack of warning from officials about the potential danger that lie in the water.

"We just thought they'd put a sign out there just warning everybody...it's concerning," said one man. "I just wish they'd be more informative about what's going on."

Cyanobacteria is a dangerous toxin for humans and can be lethal in animals when blue-green algal blooms form. According to NCDEQ, traces of said bacteria are typical during the summer.

A water test on Monday conducted by field crews did not result in any visible signs of algae in the area. A rapid-test, however, did indicate some potential toxin-producing cyanobacteria was present in the water. But, the amount was not enough in "bloom quantities" that could have led to the dog's death.

The Division of Water Resources with NCDEQ will run additional tests in its chemistry lab to determine if there is any concentration of microcrystin present, as well as the number of algal cells present.

Environmental health experts urge pet owners to keep their pets away from discolored water that may be green, blue, red, or sometimes brown.

Additionally, be aware of water that looks like spilled paint and surface scums, mats, or films.

If you'd like to report concerns to the appropriate agency, you can do so here.