Red Bud Isle remains closed, more algae tests positive for neurotoxins

Pet owners are being reminded to not allow their dogs to swim anywhere near Lady Bird Lake, Barton Creek, or Red Bud Isle. Officials with the City of Austin say additional testing has revealed increasing levels of neurotoxins in algae at a greater number of locations.

Samples were taken on Monday, August 12, 2019, at Auditorium Shores, at Red Bud Isle and at Barton Creek. Samples at Barton Creek were taken just below the pedestrian bridge over Barton Creek on the Ann and Roy Butler Hike and Bike Trail.

All the samples contained greater amounts of neurotoxins than found the previous week.

The algae will naturally die off when cooler weather returns in the fall. At this time, the City of Austin has not identified a safe and effective way to treat or remove the algae, and it is likely that Red Bud Isle will remain closed for the next several weeks.

In addition to swimming, dogs should not be allowed to drink the water in these locations.

People should avoid handling the algae and minimize their exposure to the water. Boating and paddle-boarding is still allowed at your own risk. Pets and people who come into contact with the water should rinse off. If symptoms develop, they should seek immediate medical attention.

"Barking Springs" at the spillway of Barton Springs Pool is upstream of this area.

Water at Barking Springs is cold and flows from Barton Springs and Barton Creek. At this time, the city believes people and pets can continue to swim in this area at their own risk. They should avoid going downstream to areas with floating algae. They should be aware that bacteria is always a concern in smaller waterways where there is a high concentration of dogs. 

On Sunday, August 4, the City of Austin warned residents not to allow their pets to swim in or drink from Lady Bird Lake after being told that a dog had died of possible exposure to harmful algae. Since then, the city has been told about three other dogs who have died after swimming in the lake.

On Monday, August 5, the City of Austin was able to confirm the presence of algae that could produce a neurotoxin.  Drinking water remains unaffected by this situation, according to officials. 

Dogs who ingest water contaminated with this toxin could have a number of symptoms. On the severe end, it could result in respiratory paralysis and death.

Look for these signs in your pet within minutes to hours of exposure: 

  • Excessive drooling, vomiting, diarrhea
  • Foaming at the mouth
  • Jaundice, hepatomegaly
  • Blood in urine or dark urine
  • Stumbling
  • Loss of appetite
  • Photosensitization in recovering animals
  • Abdominal tenderness
  • Progression of muscle twitches
  • Respiratory paralysis

The amount of toxins the dog ingests and licking of the fur are factors.

In people, possible health effects include: 

  • Dermatologic signs or symptoms such as rash, irritation, swelling, or sores
  • Gastrointestinal signs or symptoms
  • Respiratory signs or symptoms
  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Neurologic signs or symptoms
  • Ear symptoms
  • Eye irritation

Austin Public Health routinely tracks emergency department visits. We have not seen any increases in unusual conditions that may be related to exposure to the water. APH will continue to monitor.

If members of the public have questions or concerns, please have them call 3-1-1 or 512-974-2000.

For more information and updates, click here.



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