Not All Blooms Are Beautiful: The Dangers Of Blue-Green Algae

by | 08.25.2019 | 7:41am

Blue-green algae has long been common in lakes and ponds, but it's getting a lot of attention recently for its potentially toxic impacts on dogs — but horses can be impacted, too. Though there are over 80 known kinds of blue-green algae that produce toxins, the algae are not normally toxic unless it “blooms,” meaning there are high concentrations of it in the water. In these cases, the algae can cause illness and even death in animals and humans.

In Central Kentucky, algae blooms are most common in summer and early fall, when the weather is hot and humid. If the water is contaminated with nitrogen and phosphorus from the manure and urine of livestock, or from of fertilizer runoff from gardens or fields, the algae will grow even more rapidly, reports The Horse.

Water that has a blue-green algae bloom will have a blue-green sheen or may look thick and pea-green; the algae can form a scum or slime on the water surface. Though it's impossible to tell if an algae bloom is toxic,

Animals that have been exposed to blue-green algae that contains neurotoxins may tremble, have seizures, diarrhea or trouble breathing. The animal may die within minutes or hours of exposure. Blue-green algae may also contain toxins that cause liver damage. Animals exposed to this toxin may vomit, have diarrhea or bloody stools and have pale mucus membranes. These animals may die quickly or develop liver failure over the course of several days.

There is no antidote for blue-green algae exposure. If an animal presents with any of these signs after drinking or being it water, it should receive immediate veterinary care.

Read more at The Horse.

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