One study identified 368 cases of toxic algae poisoning associated with dogs throughout the USA over a nine-decade period, but the researchers believe this represents only "a small fraction of cases that occur throughout the United States each year". Here's everything you need to know about the blue-green algae bloom, how to avoid it, how to treat a possible poisoning, and more.
As lakes and reservoirs throughout New Jersey remain closed or under advisories over toxic algae, dogs throughout the country have been reportedly dying from exposure to the bacteria. The toxic algae is usually blue, green, brown, or red, with a slimy texture and often a disgusting smell, the EPA noted. "They can produce toxins (such as microcystins and anatoxins) that affect people, livestock and pets that swim in and drink from the algae-contaminated water".
"Remove from the situation and then hose them down with fresh water, try to provide some fresh drinking water to try to dilute out some of that toxin", Gruchow said. People have also been sickened by algae blooms in the ocean, such as the "red tide" events that periodically plague Florida's coasts.
In Wilmington, North Carolina, three dogs died after frolicking in a pond, while another succumbed after a swim in Lake Allatoona, Georgia.
"This time of year we worry a lot more about it, because as the warm weather sets in these algal blooms are more common", said Tomaro. Cyanobacteria blooms are usually blue-green in color.
"Children and pets, due to their smaller body size, if they swallow lake water that could possibly be producing toxins, that could make them sick", said Gina Laliberte, Wisconsin DNR. Children and dogs are said to be the most vulnerable from the toxins.
Through a GoFundMe page, the couple is now trying to raise awareness and money to purchase signs that would be placed in front of all local bodies of water contaminated with the bacteria.
A Go Fund Me page has been set up by Melissa's friends in a bid to spread the word and share this information with every pet owner.