Blue-green algae produce toxins that are hazardous to humans and can be fatal in animals, particularly dogs, said Deon van der Merwe, associate professor of diagnostic medicine and pathobiology. Blue-green algae, also known as cyanobacteria, grow in bodies of water, such as lakes and ponds, and other wet places, such as moist soil or rocks.
Kansas State University
Blue-green algae produce toxins that are hazardous to humans and can be fatal in animals, particularly dogs.
"Essentially anywhere there is water, you can find blue-green algae," said van der Merwe, who also manages the toxicology section of the Kansas State Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory.
Blue-green algae develop when water has excess nutrients, which helps cyanobacteria grow rapidly and creates an algae bloom. Discolored water or algal scum can be signs of an algae bloom, which can last anywhere from a few days to several weeks. Cyanobacteria need sunlight to grow because they are photosynthesizing organisms, van der Merwe said.
"If there is a lot of sunshine and if the weather is warm, that makes it easier for them to grow rapidly," van der Merwe said. "That's why blooms occur most frequently in the summer, especially in drought conditions. Under drought conditions, you typically have many cloudless days and more sunlight reaching water."
Health problems can arise when animals and people come into contact with the various toxins produced by cyanobacteria. The most prominent problem involves a toxin called microsystin, which affects the gastrointestinal tract and liver, van der Merwe said. When animals are exposed to this toxin, they may experience vomiting or diarrhea. If the cyanobacteria exposure is severe, it can be lethal and cause liver failure in animals.
Although gastrointestinal problems and liver failure also are possible in humans after blue-green algae exposure, irritant effects are more common. Humans often experience skin rashes, sneezing, coughing, irritated eyes, running noses and conjunctivitis after blue-green algae exposure.
"If you go to a lake or pond and the water is green, it is important to avoid physical contact with that water," van der Merwe said. "If people swim or ski behind a boat and they inhale spray from behind that boat, those can also be situations in which people can be exposed."
Although blue-green algae affect all animals, they primarily affect dogs because of their behaviors, van der Merwe said. Dogs often roam around and seek out algal scums in the water or on the lakeshore. This is dangerous because even when the scum has dried, it still can maintain toxicity.
"If people suspect that their dog has been exposed and the dog starts to vomit, that is often the first sign you will see," van der Merwe said. "It is very important to get the dog to the veterinarian as soon as possible. It may be possible to do preventative treatment to stop the full development of the poisoning."
It's also important for pet owners to protect themselves from blue-green algae exposure, van der Merwe said. Pet owners should wear protective gloves when handling animals that have been exposed to blue-green algae.
"It is a risk for people as much as it is for animals," van der Merwe said.
Blue-green algae can affect other animals -- such as birds, deer, cattle, horses and other livestock -- that use open water. Cyanobacteria blooms can even cause massive fish die-offs, van der Merwe said. As the algae bloom goes through its normal cycle of blooming and dying, the millions of decomposing organisms reduce the levels of oxygen in the water, which can kill fish.
The Kansas State Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory accepts water samples to test for blue-green algae. Samples can be dropped by the laboratory from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays or shipped to the laboratory in an insulated box with a cold pack. The address for the Kansas State Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory is 1800 Denison Ave., Manhattan, KS 66506. For more information, contact the laboratory at 866-512-5650 or visit www.ksvdl.org.
Read more at http://www.k-state.edu/media/newsreleases/jul13/algae72513.html
Deon van der Merwe, 785-532-4333, email@example.com
Pronouncer: van der Merwe is fon der mur-vuh
K-State Video News: Raw video footage is available for broadcast stations. Contact Lindsey Elliott at 785-532-1456 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Deon van der Merwe | Newswise
Making Oceans Plastic Free - Project tackles the problem of plastic pollution in the oceans
31.05.2017 | Leibniz-Zentrum für Marine Tropenforschung (ZMT)
Nitrogen Oxides Emissions: Traffic Dramatically Underestimated as Major Polluter
31.05.2017 | Universität Innsbruck
Heatwaves in the Arctic, longer periods of vegetation in Europe, severe floods in West Africa – starting in 2021, scientists want to explore the emissions of the greenhouse gas methane with the German-French satellite MERLIN. This is made possible by a new robust laser system of the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT in Aachen, which achieves unprecedented measurement accuracy.
Methane is primarily the result of the decomposition of organic matter. The gas has a 25 times greater warming potential than carbon dioxide, but is not as...
Hydrogen is regarded as the energy source of the future: It is produced with solar power and can be used to generate heat and electricity in fuel cells. Empa researchers have now succeeded in decoding the movement of hydrogen ions in crystals – a key step towards more efficient energy conversion in the hydrogen industry of tomorrow.
As charge carriers, electrons and ions play the leading role in electrochemical energy storage devices and converters such as batteries and fuel cells. Proton...
Scientists from the Excellence Cluster Universe at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Munich have establised "Cosmowebportal", a unique data centre for cosmological simulations located at the Leibniz Supercomputing Centre (LRZ) of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences. The complete results of a series of large hydrodynamical cosmological simulations are available, with data volumes typically exceeding several hundred terabytes. Scientists worldwide can interactively explore these complex simulations via a web interface and directly access the results.
With current telescopes, scientists can observe our Universe’s galaxies and galaxy clusters and their distribution along an invisible cosmic web. From the...
Temperature measurements possible even on the smallest scale / Molecular ruby for use in material sciences, biology, and medicine
Chemists at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) in cooperation with researchers of the German Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing (BAM)...
Germany counts high-precision manufacturing processes among its advantages as a location. It’s not just the aerospace and automotive industries that require almost waste-free, high-precision manufacturing to provide an efficient way of testing the shape and orientation tolerances of products. Since current inline measurement technology not yet provides the required accuracy, the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT is collaborating with four renowned industry partners in the INSPIRE project to develop inline sensors with a new accuracy class. Funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF), the project is scheduled to run until the end of 2019.
New Manufacturing Technologies for New Products
19.06.2017 | Event News
13.06.2017 | Event News
13.06.2017 | Event News
22.06.2017 | Life Sciences
22.06.2017 | Materials Sciences
22.06.2017 | Materials Sciences