Blue-Green Algae Toxins in Water

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Beware of Toxic Blue Green Algae in September Months

September is the Month for Blue-Green Algae Poisoning

Boise – The Idaho State Department of Agriculture (ISDA) and the Idaho Department of Fish and Game wish to alert the public, especially ranchers, hunters and outdoor enthusiasts about the dangers of blue-green algae bloom. Blue-green algae blooms commonly are found in ponds, lakes and streams where water is warm and slow moving. They generally can be identified by the appearance of floating layers of scum resembling pea soup. When the algae bloom, they can naturally produce toxins which can be deadly when ingested. Pet and livestock owners should avoid allowing animals to swim or drink water if algae are visible.

Nine Montana cattle recently died within minutes of drinking lake water with blue-green algae “bloom”. An eyewitness said the cattle died only a few feet from the water source. “In past years, Idaho has documented cases of blue-green algae bloom deaths, and with the current drought conditions experienced this year, some water supplies may be primed for toxic blooms,” said Dr. Greg Ledbetter, state veterinarian for the ISDA.

“If pond scum is present I would recommend keeping pets out of the water and finding alternate water sources for livestock,” Ledbetter said.

Idaho Fish and Game cautions that hunters using dogs early in the bird seasons need to be careful about allowing their dogs to drink from algae-contaminated pools. In recent years, at least one hunting dog has died and others sickened after drinking from stagnant pools in the Hells Canyon area. Dogs are particularly susceptible to blue-green algae poisoning because the scum can attach to dogs’ coats and be swallowed during self-cleaning.

Blue-green algae are expected to bloom until the first frost of fall.


Helpful Links & References: (Two very toxic blue green algae are Nostoc and Anabena)

Nostoc pictures:

Anabena (another toxic cyanobacteria)