BROOKLYN — Keep your pooches out of the lake for now, folks.
The state Department of Environmental Conservation confirmed last week that toxin-producing blue-green algae is “widespread” in Prospect Park Lake, and could harm people and animals who come in contact with it.
The algae “bloom” has spread throughout the whole lake, according to a DEC test, and “most or all” of the shoreline, including the Dog Beach near the Long Meadow.
Blue-green algae is a "cyanobacteria” that can cause nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, throat irritation or breathing difficulties. If enough water with the algae is consumed, its toxins can also cause problems in the liver and nervous system, according to the DEC.
Local groups of dog owners noticed health issues with their pups cropping up last fall after the DEC first confirmed the presence of algae in the lake, but had not yet confirmed its toxicity.
At the time, the city Parks Department advised visitors to Prospect Park “avoid contact with any algae and keep pets on leashes and do not allow them to enter or drink from lakes and ponds.”
If a pet owner thinks his or her dog has been exposed, Park Slope veterinarian Dr. Chris Gaylord told pet blog Brooklyn Bark “you should wash them thoroughly with soap and fresh water” with gloves and prevent them from licking their fur.
“Dogs are quite sensitive to the toxins produced by this algae and consumption can result in death,” he said before adding that cyanobacteria toxicity is “quite rare in general.”
More information about blue-green algae is available on the DEC’s website or through the Parks Department.