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The Dangers of Blue Green Algae

The dangers of Blue Green Algae

What is Blue Green Algae?
Blue Green Algae is the common name for Cyanobacteria. Most types of algae are not a problem.  Blue Green Algae, however, is very toxic.  

What does Blue Green Algae look like?  Blue green algae does not float ON the water, it is distributed WITHIN the water.  The algae that floats on top is typically duckweed, which is not toxic.  Blue Green Algae laden water is not clear and generally takes on a deep dark green color.  Usually Blue Green Algae is found in the shallow bay of lakes, slews or ponds.  

When is Blue Green Algae a problem?  
Blue Green Algae doesn't always release it's toxin.  The environmental temperature has to be right for this to happen.  In Minnesota, cyanobacteria toxins typically occur in July and August when water temperatures rise to 85 degrees and runoff fertilizer byproducts of nitrogen and phosphorous are present.

How does Blue Green Algae cause illness?
Animals (and people) can get sick from Blue Green Algae by drinking or swimming in the water.  The Algae releases a toxin into the water, and when ingested, the toxin can cause liver failure.  

What are signs of Blue Green Algae toxicity?  
Symptoms  include vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, seizures, respiratory distress and death.  Signs can occur within hours to days.  

What is the treatment for Blue Green Algae toxicity?
There is no specific treatment for Blue Green Algae toxicity.  Pets are treated with supportive care, typically IV fluids.  If you suspect that your pet has been exposed to Blue Green Algae, wear rubber gloves and bathe your pet immediatley.  Then bring your pet to the nearest Veterinarian.  

How can I prevent Blue Green Algae Toxicity?
First, don't let your pet drink or swim in water that is not clear.  Tests are available through the University of Minnesota Veterinary School Toxicology Unit that can test the water for presence of Blue Green Algae toxins.  

Is it safe to give my pet Blue Green Algae herbal supplements?  
No, you should not give your pet Blue Green Algae tablets.  A 2006 case at the University of Minnesota Veterinary School involved a sick cat with severely elevated liver enzymes after ingesting these tablets. The tablets that were given to the cat were analyzed and confirmed to contain blue green algae toxin.

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