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Old 12-31-2008, 07:20 AM   #1
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Exclamation Warning for Dog Owners (please read)

I was recently forwarded this in an email from a friend who works for the USDA in Washington State. Should be a must read for hunters with dogs who frequent these types of water bodies.

Dog deaths from cyanobacteria spurs lake monitoring

Office of Environmental Health Assessments

In October 2008, two Labrador retrievers died after drinking water from Liberty Lake, near Spokane, Washington. Anatoxin-a, a neurotoxin, is suspected in both cases. Earlier in the month, three dogs were sickened and two died after swimming in Newman Lake, also near Spokane. While toxic cyanobacteria were initially suspected, one of the dog's symptoms could possibly be linked to leptospirosis. In 2007, veterinarians reported that two dogs died in separate incidents after swimming in Potholes Lake in Grant County during a cyanobacterial bloom. In December of that same year, a dog died after swimming during a cyanobacterial bloom in American Lake, Pierce County.

In 2006, two dogs died after swimming in Anderson Lake, Jefferson County. Toxin levels in Anderson Lake were high at the time that the dogs died. Previously, other pets have died after being exposed to toxic blooms in Lake Steilacoom and other water bodies. In animals that live more than a few hours following exposure to high levels of cyanobacteria toxin, abnormally high levels of potassium and/or low levels of glucose in blood may lead to death within a few days.

Cyanobacteria, better known to lake residents as blue-green algae, are found in Washington's lakes and ponds with increasing frequency. Blue-green blooms are often mistaken for paint spills because they may look like bright green paint floating in scum on the water's surface. Often smelly and unsightly when they decompose, some species of cyanobacteria also produce toxins. Scientists do not know what triggers toxin production by cyanobacteria. Not all species produce toxins. Even known toxin producers do not produce toxins all the time. Only laboratory tests can confirm whether a bloom is toxic or non-toxic.

The most common cyanobacterial toxins in temperate water bodies are microcystins, which affect the liver, and anatoxin-a, which affects the nervous system. Both toxins can harm people, pets, and livestock as well as fish and wildlife. Symptoms in people may include stomach pains, vomiting, diarrhea, skin rashes, sore throat, ear and eye irritation, fevers, blistered mouth, or nerve and liver damage. Cyanobacterial toxins may also have long-term health effects, including liver cancer promotion and possibly neurological diseases.

So just how risky are blue-green blooms? Since cyanobacterial toxins can be lethal to animals even in small amounts, caution should always be taken when a bloom occurs. As cells die, toxins are released into surrounding waters. Some toxins, such as microcystins, are very stable and can remain in the water for days or weeks after the bloom has disappeared.

The Washington State Department of Ecology in 2007 began a program that offers freshwater algae identification and toxicity testing. The department contracts with a laboratory to identify algae species to genus level and to test for cyanobacterial toxins.

Earlier this year, Washington Department of Health received a grant from the CDC to track incidences of harmful algal blooms. Staff from King, Pierce, and Snohomish counties will monitor 30 lakes to determine the number of bloom and toxic bloom occurrences. In years two and three of the 5-year grant, samples will be tested for saxitoxins and cylindrospermopsin, in addition to microcystins and anatoxin-a.

The CDC is interested in investigating all reports of animal and pet illnesses related to harmful algal blooms. To report an illness, contact Joan Hardy of the Department of Health at 360-236-3173 or toll free at 1-877-485-7316. For more information about cyanobacteria, see the Department of Health Web site at www.doh.wa.gov/ehp/algae/default.htm and the Department of Ecology site at www.ecy.wa.gov/programs/wq/plants/algae/publichealth/index.html.


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Old 12-31-2008, 07:32 AM   #2
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Default Re: Warning for Dog Owners (please read)

A little closer to home this summer was about a two week period on the Tualatin river. The river was almost the color of anti-freeze.

Not good!!
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Old 12-31-2008, 02:03 PM   #3
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Default Re: Warning for Dog Owners (please read)

Thanks for the heads up... I've seen it posted here several times and have witnessed the bloom on Vancouver Lake.... That is some wierd looking stuff on the water....

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