Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Toxicologist Urges People, Pets to Beware of Blue-Green Algae

29.07.2013
With blue-green algae contaminating lakes nationwide, a Kansas State University toxicologist warns pet owners to understand the bacteria's dangers for their pets and for themselves.

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, dmerwe@k-state.edu

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 lindseye@k-state.edu.

Deon van der Merwe | Newswise
Further information:
http://www.k-state.edu

More articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation:

nachricht Dispersal of Fish Eggs by Water Birds – Just a Myth?
19.02.2018 | Universität Basel

nachricht Removing fossil fuel subsidies will not reduce CO2 emissions as much as hoped
08.02.2018 | International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA)

All articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Attoseconds break into atomic interior

A newly developed laser technology has enabled physicists in the Laboratory for Attosecond Physics (jointly run by LMU Munich and the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics) to generate attosecond bursts of high-energy photons of unprecedented intensity. This has made it possible to observe the interaction of multiple photons in a single such pulse with electrons in the inner orbital shell of an atom.

In order to observe the ultrafast electron motion in the inner shells of atoms with short light pulses, the pulses must not only be ultrashort, but very...

Im Focus: Good vibrations feel the force

A group of researchers led by Andrea Cavalleri at the Max Planck Institute for Structure and Dynamics of Matter (MPSD) in Hamburg has demonstrated a new method enabling precise measurements of the interatomic forces that hold crystalline solids together. The paper Probing the Interatomic Potential of Solids by Strong-Field Nonlinear Phononics, published online in Nature, explains how a terahertz-frequency laser pulse can drive very large deformations of the crystal.

By measuring the highly unusual atomic trajectories under extreme electromagnetic transients, the MPSD group could reconstruct how rigid the atomic bonds are...

Im Focus: Developing reliable quantum computers

International research team makes important step on the path to solving certification problems

Quantum computers may one day solve algorithmic problems which even the biggest supercomputers today can’t manage. But how do you test a quantum computer to...

Im Focus: In best circles: First integrated circuit from self-assembled polymer

For the first time, a team of researchers at the Max-Planck Institute (MPI) for Polymer Research in Mainz, Germany, has succeeded in making an integrated circuit (IC) from just a monolayer of a semiconducting polymer via a bottom-up, self-assembly approach.

In the self-assembly process, the semiconducting polymer arranges itself into an ordered monolayer in a transistor. The transistors are binary switches used...

Im Focus: Demonstration of a single molecule piezoelectric effect

Breakthrough provides a new concept of the design of molecular motors, sensors and electricity generators at nanoscale

Researchers from the Institute of Organic Chemistry and Biochemistry of the CAS (IOCB Prague), Institute of Physics of the CAS (IP CAS) and Palacký University...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

2nd International Conference on High Temperature Shape Memory Alloys (HTSMAs)

15.02.2018 | Event News

Aachen DC Grid Summit 2018

13.02.2018 | Event News

How Global Climate Policy Can Learn from the Energy Transition

12.02.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Basque researchers turn light upside down

23.02.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Finnish research group discovers a new immune system regulator

23.02.2018 | Health and Medicine

Attoseconds break into atomic interior

23.02.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>