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Recent drought may have helped trigger unusual blooms of toxic algae in several Nebraska lakes. The resulting algae growth has killed five dogs and sickened more than 40 people, state officials said Tuesday.
Brian McManus, a spokesman for the Department of Environmental Quality, explained to Associated Press writer Joe Ruff that lower water levels create greater concentrations of the naturally occurring blue-green algae, and sunlight reaching to greater depths could have stimulated more growth.
In addition, years of dry conditions in eastern Nebraska were followed this year by rain and cloudy conditions, allowing some algae strains to become more dominant.
Just west of Lincoln, Neb., Pawnee Lake was placed on a health alert July 16. More than 40 people who have visited the lake in recent weeks have called health officials complaining of stomach and skin ailments. Several smaller lakes are on a similar alert.
State officials first noticed the toxic algae problem in May. That's when they got reports that three dogs had died after drinking water out of Buccaneer Bay Lake and two dogs died after drinking water from Hanson Lake 2.