Blue-Green Algae: What You Need To Know

You may have seen in the news recently about the three dogs in North Carolina who died from exposure to blue-green algae after a day of swimming at a pond. Blue-green algae blooms are microscopic bacteria that occur naturally on the surface. When the environment is just right, blue-green algae will thrive.

Blue-green algae blooms can create toxins that may be harmful to humans, pets, livestock, wildlife, and fish. There are many types of algae that are harmless to the environment and people around it but this specific type of algae can affect the nervous system and the liver. Other health effects include rashes, eye irritation, and gastrointestinal problems. In the most severe cases serious illness or death could occur depending on exposure.

In terms of treatment, there isn’t really anything that should be done once the blue-green algae has bloomed. Treatments of blue-green algae are not recommended as the death of this algae may be correlated with the release of the toxins. When the toxins are released, this is when it can be harmful to people and other wildlife. If caught early, treatment with chelated copper can kill off the blue-green algae. Toxins will still be released, but they will be in much smaller amounts that will do little to no harm.

If you see that blue-green algae is present, stay out of the water and make sure that pets are kept out and away from swimming or drinking the water. If you or your pet come in contact with blue-green algae, scrub with soap and rinse off right away with clean water.