TOXIC ALGAE: Blue-green algae could make pets, and people, sick
Several viral Facebook posts this week are warning about a danger to dogs around the Southeast. Posters say their dogs got sick, and even died, after swimming in ponds with blue-green algae.
The Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation says they haven’t seen any widespread issues with the algae in the state this summer.
But David Giles, an associate professor at UTC, says it’s still possible algal blooms could pop up.
"These are photosynthetic algae so they love the sun, it's how they grow and divide,” he said. “And so that's when they are more likely to start producing the toxin."
The algae increase when temperatures rise and water is stagnant. Giles says the more time the algae have to grow, the more toxins they produce. That's when they become a threat to pets and people.
"Neurotoxins can build up to levels where you would have to go to the hospital and it can be fatal,” Giles said.
Local vet John Lindsay says if you do want to take your pet, or yourself, out for a swim take precautions.
"If you're going to take them out swimming, go to a slow-moving creek or stream or somewhere that has some flowing water,” he said.
Giles says you can recognize the algae with what he calls the "green paint analogy." Blue-green algae often look like a sheen of green or blue paint on the water's surface.
Symptoms for animals can be anything from drooling to seizures. And in people, Giles says they often start small.
"Numbness of the fingers, numbness of the extremities, tingling of the lips, if it's consumed,” he said.
Giles says for pets or for people the reaction should be the same. If there are any of these symptoms see a doctor right away.