A  A  A   Print
Pond Scum Holds Dangers for People, Pets

Pond Scum Holds Dangers for People, Pets

TUESDAY, July 30 (HealthDay News) -- Blue-green algae is found in lakes and ponds across the United States and is a threat to both people and pets, an expert warns.

Toxins produced by blue-green algae are hazardous to people and can be fatal in animals, particularly dogs, said Deon van der Merwe, associate professor of diagnostic medicine and pathobiology at Kansas State University.

"Essentially anywhere there is water, you can find blue-green algae," van der Merwe said in a university news release.

"If there is a lot of sunshine and if the weather is warm, that makes it easier for them to grow rapidly," said van der Merwe, who also manages the toxicology section of the Kansas State Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory. "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."

Animals exposed to toxins from blue-green algae can experience vomiting or diarrhea. High levels of exposure to the toxins can cause them to experience liver failure and may be deadly. Gastrointestinal symptoms and liver failure also can occur in people exposed to these toxins, but symptoms such as skin rashes, sneezing, coughing, eye irritation and runny nose are more common in humans.

"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."

"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 preventive treatment to stop the full development of the poisoning."

Pet owners also need to protect themselves by wearing protective gloves when handling animals that have been exposed to blue-green algae.

In addition, blue-green algae can affect other animals -- such as birds, deer, cattle, horses and other livestock -- that use open water, van der Merwe said.

More information

The Kansas Department of Health and Environment has more about blue-green algae.

SOURCE: Kansas State University, news release, July 25, 2013

 
Today's Interactive Tools

The third-party content provided in the Health Library of phoebeputney.com is for informational purposes only and is not designed to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease, or replace the professional medical advice you receive from your physician. If you or your child has or suspect you may have a health problem, please consult your primary care physician. If you or your child may have a medical emergency, call your doctor or 911 or other emergency health care provider immediately in the United States or the appropriate health agency of your country. For more information regarding site usage, please visit: Privacy Information, Terms of Use or Disclaimer.

Follow us online:

© 2014 Phoebe Putney Health System  |  417 Third Avenue, Albany, Georgia 31701  |  Telephone 877.312.1167

Phoebe Putney Health System is a network of hospitals, family medicine clinics, rehab facilities, auxiliary services, and medical education training facilities. Founded in 1911,
Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital (the flagship hospital) is one of Georgia's largest comprehensive regional medical centers. From the beginning, Phoebe's mission and vision
has been to bring the finest medical talent and technology to the citizens of Southwest Georgia, and to serve all citizens of the community regardless of ability to pay.