Protect Your Pets: Deadly Blue Green Algae Confirmed in Indiana Waters
Three dogs in North Carolina have died after exposure to Blue Green Algae while playing in a pond. Now the Indiana Department of Environmental Management and the Indiana State Department of Health have issued warnings about swimming for both humans and their pets after increased levels of Blue Green Algae were found in lakes and other bodies of water across the Hoosier state.
Blue Green Algae produces and releases toxins into the water. These toxins are dangerous to both humans and animals and can even be deadly, particularly for dogs because the groom themselves by licking their coats. Once exposed to water containing Blue Green Algae, those toxins can affix themselves to a dogs coat and through grooming then be ingested. According to the IDEM,
Clinical signs of blue green algae poisoning in animals include vomiting, diarrhea, decreased appetite, weakness, seizures and sudden death, especially in livestock. If you see a blue-green algae bloom in the water or where you visit, do not allow pets or livestock swim in or drink from areas where blooms are seen. If pets swim in scummy water, rinse them off with soap and water immediately to remove the toxin. Do not let them lick the algae off their fur. Direct livestock to water sources away from algal infected waters. If your animal shows any of the clinical signs listed above, contact your veterinarian immediately.
The ISDH recommends humans taking precautions during and after exposure to water in outdoor and recreational bodies of water:
- Don’t swallow the water.
- Shower before and after swimming.
- Dry your ears thoroughly after swimming.
- Avoid swimming after a rain event. Rain can wash contaminants from on land, like sewage overflows or animal feces, into the water.
- Avoid swimming if you see a blue-green algal bloom.
The toxins released into the water from Blue Green Algae can cause a number of issues for humans including: rash, skin and eye irritation, as well as nausea, digestive discomfort, and even tingling in fingers and toes. If you experience any of these symptoms, you're encouraged to contact your doctor.
The map below (live, interactive version can be found here) shows the (current at time of writing) Indiana lakes as the ISDH has ranked the threat at each location including an advisory (yellow), low (blue), no current sampling (grey). Not pictured currently are orange (caution) and red (beach closed).
To protect yourself and your pets, it may be best to avoid contact with outdoor recreational waters all together but I understand that it's hot and it's a favorite past time for many people in our area. Take precautions and be safe but please leave your dogs at home. It just might save their lives