Experts warn of sudden canine deaths linked to toxic blue-green algae

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An epidemic of canine death and disease in one state and toxic epidemics in many others have prompted health officials to issue a warning to people about the potentially fatal consequences of polluted water.

(Photo: Unsplash)

According to Oregon Public Broadcasting last week, at least six dogs in the Tri-Cities area in southeastern Washington were sick or died after coming into contact with the waters of the Columbia River. Cyanobacteria, often called blue-green algae, is blamed by health experts. As a result, a section of the river’s shoreline near Richland was blocked off.

Algae outbreak

Outbreaks of blue-green algae in late summer and early fall are widespread and have recently been documented from Nevada to North Carolina.

According to the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, cyanobacteria are found in water year-round, but warmer temperatures and higher nutrient levels at this time of year promote blooms that can be dangerous. In addition, in stagnant water, epidemics are more frequent.

Low water levels caused by the prolonged drought are also causing blooms in parts of the western United States, officials say. Shallow waters move more slowly and are more sensitive to high temperatures.

A message of the Lake Mead National Recreation Area on Thursday warned of an outbreak there.

Climate change and harmful flowering

Green algae

(Photo: Joe Raedle / Staff)

NASA and the Carnegie Institute for Science published research in 2018 that linked climate change to an increase in the frequency of algal blooms over the past 30 years.

Toxins produced by cyanobacteria can make humans sick and kill animals in large quantities, such as those found during an overgrowth.

Related article: Hundreds of Americans Hospitalized in Recent Years Due to Toxic Algae Blooms, CDC Says

Endangered animals

Dogs

(Photo: Lucas Pezeta)

Dogs are more likely to get sick from their increased exposure, but cattle and other animals are also at risk.

Raelynn Farnsworth, acting director of the Veterinary Teaching Hospital at Washington State University, told Oregon Public Broadcasting that an animal is more likely than a person to drink from a green mud puddle, pond, or a polluted source.

Because illness and death can strike quickly, experts advise getting immediate veterinary treatment if a pet has been exposed to cyanobacteria.

Some of the symptoms in dogs are excessive salivation, vomiting, fatigue, unsteady walking, difficulty breathing, seizures, liver failure, and death, often within hours.
Human interaction

Humans can experience irritation to the skin, eyes, nose, throat, and lungs if they come in direct contact with cyanobacteria or inhale droplets. Additionally, if you drink polluted water you may have stomach pain, headache, neurological symptoms including muscle weakness or dizziness, vomiting, diarrhea, or liver damage. .

What to do?

If you suspect that your pet or other animal has been exposed to toxic algae, cyanobacteria, or their toxins, the EPA recommends the following actions:

-Rinse the animal immediately with tap water to prevent it from licking algae or cyanobacteria from its coat.

– Contact a veterinarian immediately.

-Call an animal poison control center.

-Contact your local or national health agency if you suspect an illness is caused by algae, cyanobacteria or their toxins.

Also read: Toxic Algae Blamed for Closed Access in Parts of California River

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