Thursday, 16 August 2012

Blue-green algae in Lac La Loche

St. Bernard dog on the shore of Lac La Loche. This dog died after drinking water from the lake.
read more..............summer-perils-blue-green-algae

Last month a friend of mine lost two of his dogs. Both died near the same time.  They died from drinking the water from Lac La Loche he said.  In the late 1970's he had lost another dog in the same manner. 
I began to take notice of other reports mentioning algae. Algae had been present on the shore when the dogs drank from the lake. I found the following information.

The following Youtube videos one from Saskatchewan and one from Wisconsin show information on blue-green algae.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Summer Perils: Blue-green Algae

Guest post by Lorie Huston, DVM

Summertime brings with it a number of health hazards for dogs. Among them is the danger of poisoning from blue-green algae.

Blue-green algae, also known as cyanobacteria, is common in stale or stagnant water and is often found in ponds, lakes, reservoirs and other bodies of standing water. Waters affected by blue-green algal blooms are
usually of poor water quality. These waters contain large amounts of organic matter and minerals that support plant growth, especially of the algal variety. Algal blooms are most common in hot, humid weather. Often, the algal bloom will be most profuse on the windward side of the lake, pond or reservoir.

It can be difficult to identify a toxic algal bloom. Often, the water will have a greenish, pea-soup type of appearance. Not all algal blooms are toxic but if there is any doubt about the quality of the water in question, it is best to keep your dog away from the area.

Dogs become poisoned with the toxins found in blue-green algae when they swim or drink from waters where a bloom has occurred. Blue-green algae contain several toxins, two of which are hepatotoxins (a toxin affecting the liver) and one which is a neurotoxin (a toxin affecting the central nervous system).

The two hepatoxins are known as microcystins and nodularins. These are produced by specific species of blue-green algae, *Microcystis* and *Nodularia. * Other species of blue-green algae, most notably  *Anabaena*, *Aphanizomenon * and *Oscillatoria, * produce the neurotoxin, which is specified as anatoxin-a or anatoxin-as.

Symptoms in affected dogs depend on the specific type of blue-green algae present in the water and the type of toxin the algae produces. Symptoms commonly seen with the hepatotoxins include:
  • depression
  • vomiting
  • diarrhea
  • weakness
  • abnormal coloration of the skin and gums
  • shock
  • death resulting from liver failure
When affected by the neurotoxin, the most common signs seen in dogs are:
  • muscle rigidity
  • tremors
  • seizures
  • paralysis
  • respiratory paralysis
  • death
Skin irritations have been noted in people that contact blue-green algal blooms as have gastrointestinal and respiratory problems.

The onset of clinical signs is generally fairly quick, usually within a few minutes to a few hours of ingestion. Treatment is symptomatic, aimed at treating the individual clinical signs and providing supportive care. The
outcome is often fatal. There is no specific antidote available for any of these toxins. more

Harmful Algae Blooms

Algae are an important part of out freshwater and saltwater ecosystems. Too much algae growth, an algae bloom, can be a problem when it occurs in recreational waters. When the type of algae in a bloom can produce toxins these are called - harmful algae blooms.

Cyanobacteria Blooms

Cyanobacteria, also known as blue-green algae, occurs in both salt and freshwater, but the blooms are of most concern in freshwater ponds and rivers. These blooms look like mats or thick paint on the surfaces of water. Blooms frequently appear blue or green but sometimes appear brown or red. These blooms can be harmful to people and animals. Contact with cyanobacteria can cause skin and eye irritation. Swallowing a small amount of water contaminated with cyanobactera can cause gastrointestinal symptoms. Drinking large amounts may cause liver or neurological damage. Small children and pets are more susceptible to the effects of cyanobacteria than adults. Dogs, in particular, can get very ill and even die from ingesting cyanobacteria, either by directly ingesting it or licking it off their fur.

What you should do

Father Emile Petitot describes algae blooms in the lakes of Northern Saskatchewan in his book  'En route pour la mer glaciale' in the 1870's.  

"This lake (Lac Ile a la Crosse) offer a singular phenomena: when the waters are agitated by the wind, they are clear, pure and drinkable. But when it is calm and the waters do not move, there comes from the sandy bottom that forms the bed of this lake and others of the region, a green substance, smelly and nauseating unless filtered. The fish grow bigger eating this but have a swampy taste rendering them of inferior quality.

As long as the calm lasts and the temperature rises, this floating scum thickens and accumulates on the shores like the scum of a boiling pan, it decomposes taking on a terrible stench and is a disgusting sight.

Green Lake, Churchill Lake, Peter Pond Lake, Lac La Loche, Heart Lake , Cold Lake, Lac La Biche and others in the same region all experience the same phenomena; but none experience it to the same intensity as Lac Ile a la Crosse."