ENVIRONMENT

Lower Virgin River in southern Utah under health watch for harmful algae

Aug 13, 2023, 6:02 PM | Updated: 6:03 pm

virgin river shown, harmful algae has been found in the lower part of the river in southern utah...

The shallow Virgin River flows through St. George on Friday, June 10, 2022. (Jeffrey D. Allred/Deseret News)

(Jeffrey D. Allred/Deseret News)

ST. GEORGE, Utah — Utah water quality officials have placed a health watch for the lower Virgin River in southern Utah after one dog died and three others got sick from exposure to harmful algae mats.

In a press release on Friday, the Utah Division of Water Quality said the health watch would cover the lower Virgin River from Zion National Park to the Utah-Arizona border. 

 

The release said officials put the health watch into place after learning that four different dogs showed similar symptoms consistent with exposure to harmful algae.

The dogs all became ill after ingesting water from the Virgin River in Hurricane, St. George and Bloomington, respectively.

This advisory comes a month after an estimated 30 ducks died in the Liberty Park pond from suspected exposure to harmful algae.

What to watch out for in pets

Dr. Hannah Bonner with the Division of Water Quality said there are symptoms pet owners can watch out for.

“Common symptoms include drooling, staggering, dizziness, a hard time for the dog holding still or balancing, shortness of breath. Or, in more severe cases even paralysis or seizures.”

People are encouraged to keep themselves and their pets away from the parts of the Virgin River that are under health watch.

Related: Summer brings threat of harmful algal blooms to Utah’s lakes

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Lower Virgin River in southern Utah under health watch for harmful algae