Blog

Blue-Green Algae Toxicity

In regards to the recent Blue-Green Algae Toxicity in the area:
Toxic blue-green algae is not actually algae but a toxic microorganism called cyanobacteria that contains chlorophyll, which makes it look similar to plant matter. It thrives in warm and stagnant freshwater lakes and ponds that are fed by fertilizer runoff and sewage. The bacteria can cause skin irritation and gastrointestinal issues in humans; it can kill animals within 15 minutes of exposure. Seasonal outbreaks are common; every summer, people and pets fall ill from exposure to cyanobacteria.

Toxic blooms often look like green paint floating on water, but also can appear to be bluish, brownish or reddish green before eventually breaking down in the water to be destroyed naturally. While Celi didn’t see the algae, he said it was present during his visit to the park with Larry.

“Like many naturally occurring toxins, all bets are off. There’s no antidote,” he said. “That doesn’t mean there’s nothing we can do; we can do supportive care. But these bacteria are mean and nasty, and for those severely affected, there’s a strong possibility it’s going to be fatal.”

For that reason, Johnson advises owners to avoid stagnant bodies of water in the summer.

Acute effects causing neurologic and liver toxicity.

Toxic blue-green algae isn’t a plant but a dangerous bacteria that can appear in a variety of colors. Experts suggest staying away from murky, standing bodies of water, especially during hot summer months. Signs of a toxic bloom include dead fish or other animals; sudden unexplained sickness or death of dogs and cats; and skin rashes on people who swim in the water.
There are several different blue green algae.Microcystin is a potent hepatotoxin. Anatoxin-a affects both nicotinic and muscarinic acetylcholine receptors (thus neuro signs predominate). Anatoxin-a(s) is the only naturally occurring organophosphorus cholinesterase inhibitor (thus get a syndrome just like an OP).

So putting all of them together: GI signs, SLUDDE, CNS (ataxia, tremors, seizures, coma, paddling), shock, pallor, liver failure, cyanosis, dyspnea, weakness, death.

Depending on the species, and thus the specific toxin, signs can develop from a few minutes to days.
Blue green algea can cause a rapid death if exposure is significant. There have been several toxic principle identified:
1) Anatoxin-a, a nicotinic depolarizing alkaloid which can be very fast acting similar to a succinylcholine poisoning and
2) Anatoxin-a(s) which acts as a cholinesterase inhibitor, hence the “s” for all the salivation it causes.
3) They also produce certain hepatotoxins.

Comments are closed.