More than 2,300 lakes and rivers across the contiguous United States host blue-green algal blooms, according to the data Recently released by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. There are another 5,000 bodies of water across Alaska that are blooming as well.
Blue-green algae or cyanobacteria can produce a toxin that can be fatal to pets and harmful to humans.
What are cyanobacteria?
Cyanobacteria naturally grow in water, usually fresh water, but they are also found in brackish or brackish water. When the water is warm, stagnant, and rich in nutrients (usually phosphorous and nitrogen from fertilizer run-off or a septic tank overflow), it can grow out of control and form an algal bloom.
Some blooms produce blue toxins, which can enter the nose, mouth, or eyes, or be inhaled with water vapor.
Different cyanobacteria produce different toxins. Varieties that attack the liver, nerves, and skin are most common.
NOAA satellites can pick up the blooms that often form in summer and early fall. In August, cases of poisoning between animals and humans rose, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“It’s very toxic,” Lori Teller, president of American Veterinary Medical Association She told FOX Weather about the dogs and the poison. “Whether you swim in it, drink it, eat it, or inhale it, it can cause vomiting, diarrhea, and breathing difficulties, and it can cause seizures and death.”
How are people affected?
Human responses to the venom have not been well studied, but evidence points to rashes, itching, gastrointestinal upset, and even low weight in children born to women exposed to cyanotoxins.
a study In the journal Remote Sensing of the Environment she noted two cases in Ohio where toxins contaminated drinking water. The flowers were close to the drinking water intakes.
“In Toledo, high levels of microcysteine in the water supply in 2014 prompted city officials to issue drinking water advisories to the entire city, causing 500,000 residents to depend on bottled water for 3 days,” the study author wrote on the cyanotoxin. “The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has reported 110 cases of disease attributable to blue toxin from the Toledo event, with severe gastrointestinal disease.”
The Ohio Environmental Protection Agency issued a “don’t drink” order to 2,000 people in Carroll Township in 2013 after the local drinking water utility found dangerous levels of the toxin, according to the study.
“People and animals may be exposed to cyanotoxin by ingesting fish or shellfish from water bodies with cyanobacterial reproduction,” the study author stated. “Some studies indicate that cyanotoxins can be absorbed by agricultural crops irrigated with cyanoHAB-damaged water, but research on the health risks associated with them is very limited.”
HAB is an acronym for Harmful Algal Bloom.
According to the study, mothers reproducing a Lake Michigan with HAB either caused or were a major contributor to babies born with low birth weight in Kalamazoo and Barry counties. Officials estimated the cost of hospitalization for infants at more than $760,000.
How common is cyanotoxin poisoning?
Center for Disease Control–sponsored by study They looked at cyanotoxin cases from just 14 states in 2019. They found that 63 people and 367 animals were suffering. No one died, but 207 or 56% of the animals died. The authors also feel that the number of cases is largely underreported. Symptoms generally lasted from one to seven days, but 25% of people with poisoning experienced it for up to six weeks.
Of the animals killed, 90% were wild animals, 7% were pets and 3% were livestock.
“If you notice that your pet has been exposed in some way, you should definitely rinse your pet as soon as you can with fresh water, not pool water, and you really need to seek immediate veterinary care,” Teller said. “There is no known antidote to this, so we want to do everything we can to stop the effects and the development of the problem.”
Teller said animals can die within minutes to hours after being exposed to the toxin.
“Sometimes, it can take days,” Teller added.
Detect this harmful algae
NOAA, along with the Environmental Protection Agency, NASA, and the US Geological Survey, recently began launching satellite-identified boom sites as part of the blue skyCyanobacteria Assessment Network. Find updates and forecasts for specific regions in NOAA’s HAB Prediction Website. The EPA also lists resources by state on HAB . website.
Stay away from scum, scum, mats, or even colored streaks in or near a water body that are signs of a blue-green algae bloom. Cyanobacteria are not necessarily blue or green but can be other colors such as brown, red, or neon. When flowering begins to dieAnd the It releases the smell of rotting plants.
Don’t let your dogs sniff or eat dry mats on the edge of the pond or dead fish – they can be poisonous.
signs of poisoning
Pets may show a lack of energy or appetite, have tremors, vomit, or drool excessively if they swallow the poison. Take the animal to the vet immediately, especially if the pet becomes ill after contact with water.
Signs of poisoning are nausea, headache, sore throat, fever, diarrhea, numbness, burning, tingling, respiratory problems, and slurred speech, depending on which blue poison is responsible.
There is no antidote or cure for humans or pets for cyanotoxin, so doctors treat symptoms.
generate a problem
Federal officials see blue toxins as a growing problem.
Two out of five patented EPA technologies detect cyanotoxins in water inMake a technical challenge in the market. “
“Increasing evidence indicates that global climate change, watershed degradation, and increased nutrient loading of freshwater systems are contributing to the increased frequency, intensity, extent, and broader geographic distribution of harmful algal blooms (HABs),” a CDC researcher wrote. in study.
By notifying the public and local officials about harmful flowers spotted by satellites, NASA and other agencies hope to prevent the poisoning.
A 2017 study I looked at a single flower on Lake Utah. The agencies notified local public health and environmental officials, who have kept people and animals away from the lake.
“Detecting flowering early makes it possible to save hundreds of thousands of dollars in healthcare,” the study authors wrote in the Journal of Remote Sensing. “We found that the availability of satellite data has resulted in social and economic benefits by improving human health outcomes that are estimated to be worth about $370,000…estimate can vary widely… (with changes or delays) in recreational consultation deployment, and the number of People exposed to cyanoHAB, number of people with gastrointestinal symptoms, and cost per disease.”
While poisonings and the number of blooms rise in August, blooms can occur year-round, so it’s important to keep an eye on harmful algal blooms when you’re enjoying a body of water.