What should have been a fun day at a local watering hole, ended in tragedy in North Carolina, when three dogs became seriously ill after swimming. All of them came in contact with toxic blue-green algae and experienced symptoms such as seizures or foaming at the mouth. Even though they were taken to a veterinary hospital, all three died the next day.
Blue-green also killed two dogs in Texas and another in Georgia. It also caused restrictions on swimming and boating on Lake Hopatcong, the largest lake in New Jersey.
What is blue-green algae?
Known as cyanobacteria, these microscopic organisms increase in density or “bloom” under certain environment conditions. Heavy Rainfall and storm-water followed by warm weather is often to blame. The blooms can form dense mats, that usually appear as thick green, white, or reddish-brown scum on the water’s surface. Certain strains can also produce toxins. The best precaution is to avoid contact or exposure to water when the algae blooms.
What can it do to you?
Humans can experience rashes, hives and blisters. Less frequent reactions include runny eyes and nose, sore throat, asthma-like symptoms. If swallowed, it can cause diarrhea and vomit, liver toxicity, kidney toxicity, and neurotoxicity.
Dogs can experience, excessive salivation, vomiting, fatigue, staggered walking, difficulty breathing, convulsions, liver failure and even death.
How can you protect yourself and your pets?
Basically use common sense when near algae blooms.
. Don’t swallow water from any waterway.
. Don’t swim or play in or around it.
. Do not feed waterfowl in or near scum areas.
. Do not cook or wash food in pond water.
. Clean fish properly.
If your pet is exposed to the blue-green algae scum, wash your pet thoroughly, making sure you remove all traces of scum. Remember: if the water looks too yucky for you to want to swim in, the same applies to your pet.