Blue green algae dogs warning: What does blue green algae look like, is it dangerous?

[UK] Blue-green algae is currently a major health risk as high summer temperatures encourage growth of the toxic plant. What does blue-green algae look like and is it dangerous?

Suffolk based Aqua Park at Alton Water has recently closed as blue-green algae has been detected in the water.

The park was forced to close not long after opening on July 7 after algae was detected as hot summer weather encouraged blooms to form within the water, which can be toxic to both humans and animals.

The park has now reopened.

Especially dry weather has meant that the algae has not been flushed out by running water as a result of rain, as it might be normally.

What does blue-green algae look like?

Blue-green algae is typically microscopic and hard to identify in singular specimens, but can be easily spotted once it groups together in blooms.

Blue green algae health risks: Is blue green algae toxic to pets? (Image: GETTY)

One the algae has clumped together it can grow to colonies a few millimetres in size which floats on the surface of the water or clings to surfaces like rocks.

Clumps can look like green or brown flakes, and can cause earthy smells and bubbling on the surface which can be confused with pollution.

When ingested, blue-green algae is toxic and can lead to nasty sickness in humans and death in animals.

Blue green algae identified as it clumps together (Image: GETTY)

What are the effects of blue-green algae?

Blue-green algae can create harmful toxins called Harmful Algal Blooms (HABs).

In humans, HABs haven’t been identified as a cause of death, but can cause a number of harmful effects.

Blue-green algae is able to cause the most damage if ingested, can cause rashes in cases of skin contact.

Swimming through the algae can cause skin rashes, eye irritation with simple contact, and vomiting, diarrhoea, fever and muscle and joint pain for those who have ingested it.

Can blue-green algae kill pets?

Blue-green algae has no documented cases of death in humans, but this is an entirely different case for animals, which are at extended risk from the blooms.

Blooms are known for killing wild animals, farm livestock and domestic pets.

Official advice states that farmers and pet owners should do whatever they can to keep their animals away from the algae.

While not all algae is toxic, it is indistinguishable from toxic blue-green algae to the naked eye, so is best avoided.

So far, three separate cases across the Lake District have been identified, as the Environment Agency has confirmed Ullswater, Coniston and Killington Lake as locations where the algae has been found.


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