Health Department Confirms Clark Fork Free of Algae Bloom Toxins
Missoula, MT (KGVO-AM News) - The Missoula City-County Health Department responded to an inquiry by KGVO recently about several calls stemming from social media posts that reported dogs dying after swimming in the Clark Fork River.
KGVO spoke to Travis Ross, Water Quality Specialist for the Missoula City-County Health Department about those reports earlier in July.
Tests Show No Harmful Blue Green Algae Blooms in Clark Fork
“As you know, we had a had a report a couple of weeks ago on July 13th I believe it was, regarding a couple of dogs that had been affected by potentially harmful algae bloom in the Harper's Bridge area just downstream on the Clark Fork River of Missoula,” said Ross. “In response, we did go out and do some do some testing on those areas and found that there were no toxins present that are associated with Blue Green Algae blooms.”
Ross said the samples were also sent to the state health department’s lab for testing.
“We had those samples sent to the State Department of Environmental Quality, as well as the Environmental Protection Agency to do kind of some confirmatory testing,” he said. “Those tests did confirm what we thought and that those toxins were not present.”
Ross said the veterinarian who tested the animal provided important information.
A Veterinarian said the Dog Did Not Die from Blue Green Algae Exposure
“The veterinarian did the assessment on the cause of death, at least for the exposure a couple of weeks ago, and found that it was not caused by a blue-green algae exposure,” he said. “So there was good news in this last exposure. It was not caused by an algae bloom, and the death of the dog was not caused by a harmful algae bloom.”
Ross said the public can help by reporting any unusual conditions to the Missoula City-County Health Department.
The Health Department says 'When in Doubt Stay Out' of the River
“What we're trying to get folks to do is pay attention to the conditions of the water and do an assessment,” he said. “Does it smell bad? Does it look kind of frothy or is or is there the blue-green algae, typical pea soup look, and just kind of doing an assessment on their own as well to determine whether it looks off, and if it is discolored or has foam scum or dead fish laying around, then it's an indication to stay out.”
The Health Department said ‘When in doubt, stay out.’ Get more details here.