How to spot the toxic algae that’s killing dogs in the Southeast

Elias Hubbard
August 13, 2019

Melissa Martin and Denise Mintz took their beloved dogs Abby, Izzy and Harpo to a pond in Wilmington on Thursday night to cool off. Fifteen minutes after leaving the pond, the dog began to have a seizure, according to CNN.

A GoFundMe account was also created on August 10 by Martin's friends to raise awareness of the threat posed by blue-green algae.

The third dog - a therapy dog named Harpo - fell ill and started to show signs of liver failure shortly after.

The pond where the dogs went for a dip did not bear warning signs about the dangers of toxic algae, but they hope to change that.

"They contracted blue green algae poisoning and there was nothing they could do".

"At 12:08 AM, our dogs crossed the rainbow bridge together".

"The hardest thing I have ever done is hold these incredible animals and watch their lives slip away", she added.

Cyanobacteria are microscopic organisms that live primarily in fresh water and salt water, at the surface and below, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). They've set up a fundraiser to purchase signs and erect them in front of contaminated water to prevent further pet deaths.

"Harmful algal blooms (HABs) are the rapid growth of algae that can cause harm to animals, people, or the local ecology". Although no human deaths caused by cyanobacteria have been reported in the U.S., many dogs have died after swimming in infected waters.

If your pet comes into contact with toxic algae, the CDC recommends rinsing them with tap water as soon as possible and consulting a veterinarian. They multiply and bloom when the water is warm, stagnant and rich in phosphorus and nitrogen from sources such as fertilizer runoff or septic tank overflows.

Health officials say children are also susceptible to being poisoned.

The North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality periodically updates a map of the state where algae blooms have been reported, but in the case that a health notice isn't posted, it's best for humans and pets alike to avoid waters that smell bad or look odd in color or murky, the state's health and human services department said.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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