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PSA: Warning Toxic Blue-Green Algae Showing Up In Lakes Across The US

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    What is blue-green algae and what does it look like?


    Blue-green algae isn't actually algae, but a bacteria called cyanobacteria that are normally present in many lakes. The bacteria thrives in warm, stagnant, nutrient water and when it thrives, it forms quickly. 

    Sometimes the algae look like grains of floating green sand or scum. It's often described as pea soup or spilled green paint. 

    "Any time you see unusually colored water, or vividly colored scums, be aware that this might be blue-green algae, and definitely keep pets and small children out of the water when the water looks like this," said Laliberte, Wisconsin DNR.

    The algae can go undetected by dog owners if they lurk under the water's surface or attach to plants. Wind can also blow algae from one area into another that had previously looked clear.

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    What harm does it do?


    The health threats that the toxic presents range from skin rashes to neurological problems. The toxins released from the algae can cause liver damage, lead to respiratory paralysis or produce other fatal conditions.

    Dogs are considered to be at high danger when blue-green algae is present, as they sometimes lap up the water, ingest floating pieces of algae or snap at floating algal balloons. They could fall fatally ill after licking their wet fur. Toxic algae can also dry up into crusts onshore, where dogs might nibble on them.

    According to this report by MNN, researchers believed the dogs were exposed to the toxins:

    • Inhalation - 13%
    • Ingestion - 9%
    • Skin contact plus ingestion (swimming, with swallowing water or licking fur) - 54%
    • Unknown - 24%

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