Pet owners warned after toxic algae bloom found in Willamette River

Multnomah County

Multnomah County says the bloom is impacting the Willamette River from Sauvie Island to the Ross Island Bridge

The Willamette River flows through downtown Portland with the skyline in the background, December 7, 2020 (KOIN)

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Dog owners are being warned to keep away from the Willamette River in Multnomah County after a toxic algae bloom was reported.

Multnomah County health officials announced the algal bloom is impacting the river from Sauvie Island to the Ross Island Bridge and are asking pet owners to not let their dogs swim or drink from the Willamette River as a result.

Officials said lab results from the Oregon Health Authority and Department of Environmental Quality show the toxin levels of the blue-green algae are too low to impact humans but can be “very harmful to pets – especially dogs,” adding that ingestion of the algae’s cyanotoxins can be lethal to dogs within hours.

In the event a pet is exposed by going into the water, pet owners are asked to not let their pet lick its fur, wash their pet as soon as possible with clean water, and to seek immediate veterinary care if their pet starts showing symptoms such as drooling, weakness, vomiting, staggering and convulsions.

It’s currently unclear when the blooms will go away, which may “last for weeks or months,” according to Multnomah County officials.

“Blooms develop in rivers when the water becomes slack and warm, and may last until weather and rains cool the water levels to a point where the blooms can no longer propagate,” according to the press release.

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