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Dog deaths prompt Cumberland to issue water advisory for toxic blue-green algae

Toxic Algae Utah Lake
Rick Bowmer
AP file
The water along the shore of Utah Lake is shown Wednesday, July 20, 2016, near American Fork, Utah. A huge toxic algal bloom in Utah has closed one of the largest freshwater lakes west of the Mississippi River, sickening more than 100 people and leaving farmers scrambling for clean water. The bacteria commonly known as blue-green algae has spread rapidly to cover almost all of 150-square-mile Utah Lake, turning the water a bright, anti-freeze green and leaving scummy foam along the shore.

The town of Cumberland has issued a water advisory after a local resident posted on social media that she had to euthanize her two dogs due to blue-green algae toxicity.

Elayna Girardin says her dogs Stella and Luna became sick after taking them for a walk at Twin Brook Recreational Facility on Sunday Aug. 21. She says their condition deteriorated within days.

"It wasn't until after Luna had been euthanized that they did testing on her, and what we were told was suspected blue-green algae toxicity," Girardin says.

Whitney Miller, spokesperson for the town of Cumberland, says they're warning residents to avoid contact with bodies of water in town parks out of an abundance of caution.

"We are working with the Maine Department of Environmental Protection to get some testing done this week," she says. "So really we can't confirm one way or another whether that is present in any of the waterways in the park, until probably the end of this week."

Miller also advises people in surrounding communities to be aware of blue-green algae.

Also known as cyanobacteria, the algae occurs naturally in water, but high temperatures and excess nutrients such as fertilizer can cause toxic blooms that make people and pets sick.