Consider toxic algal blooms before swimming this summer

Consider toxic algal blooms before swimming this summer

If in doubt - Keep out of the water

Several species of blue green algae, which normally live in our waterways, can bloom and produce toxins. These blooms typically occur in late summer when conditions are right and can be extremely dangerous to pet and human health.

Algae blooms can be either seen as solid black or brown mats attached to rock surfaces or floating in rivers and streams as well as a change in the watercolour ("pea soup" appearance) in lakes and estuaries. Sometimes the water is still toxic even though it looks clear.

The solid algae mats particularly are attractive to dogs as they produce a musty smell. Dogs don't even have to enter the water to get poisoned if the water levels have dropped leaving mats drying on the banks.

Symptoms of poisoning can mimic a variety of diseases. The time to onset and duration of symptoms can be variable. Signs may include vomiting, lethargy, muscle tremors, rapid breathing, paralysis and seizures. Only a small amount of algae can cause toxicity signs. In some cases, dogs can die within 30 minutes of ingesting algae.
There is no specific diagnostic test or antidote for the poison and the prognosis is very poor.

The best way to prevent poisoning is to prevent exposure.
If in doubt - stay out. Before you or your dog swims this summer, be sure to:
  • check for updates on social media or the Waikato Regional Council website
  • always check for posted warning signs at waterways
  • check for visual and smell signs
  • keep your dog on a leash
  • bring your own drinking water and bowl for your dog
  • Do not eat seafood or drink stream water from affected areas
If you think you or your dog has been exposed:
  • Take your dog for veterinary attention ASAP
  • Call Healthline on 0800 611 116 for advice regarding human health

    Date Added: Thursday, 18th February 2021