Toxic algae bloom threatens Tunkwa Lake users

By James Peters
September 6, 2017 - 2:54pm Updated: September 7, 2017 - 8:36am

KAMLOOPS — A local woman says more needs to be done to alert the public of a deadly algae bloom on Tunkwa Lake after it nearly killed her family dog.

Anita Ashton and her family were camping at the lake over the Labour Day long weekend when their Australian Shepherd-Border Collie cross, Rufuss, fell ill.

"Within 15 minutes of getting up, he just collapsed. He was lifeless and had no muscle movement or anything," said Ashton. "Then he started to foam at the mouth, and he actually had five seizures on the way to the vet's."

The veterinarian told Ashton Rufuss had ingested something toxic, and the family soon determined it was related to the lake water.

"We just found out that there's this blue algae that has shown up on Tunkwa Lake," said Ashton. "It's really a 'life and death' dangerous situation for pets, children, adults, cattle have died from this already. And I've just spoken with another vet in town who had another dog with the exact same case who barely made it as well."

While BC Parks has now posted a notice warning of the algae on its website, Ashton says there was nothing to warn them of the bloom over the weekend.

"There was no signage whatsoever and our children were playing with their water guns, filling them up in the lake." said Ashton. "You did see the algae, but there was no sign to say there was a problem - no sign to say, 'stay out of the water' at all."

"There should be fliers, there should be banners, there should be lots of signage indicating 'do not enter the water' or 'do not drink the park water from the lake.' Maybe signage at the shoreline. I think the parks staff, when they're checking in everyone and collecting money, they should be letting everyone know."

While Rufuss' prognosis is good, Ashton says she wants to warn others to ensure the same scenario doesn't unfold again with another family.

There are also reports that 3 head of cattle have also died from drinking the water.

OD deaths on the decline in BC, still well above 2016 pace