We’re no strangers to algae in water, whether it be in ponds, lakes or even aquariums. So why the big headlines about blue-green algae and where did they come from? These organisms are found naturally in all types of water. Under the right conditions, they can grow rapidly and produce unique toxins. You’ve probably noticed the warning signs at Fern Ridge Reservoir, Dorena Lake and Dexter Lake, the last couple years.
How can you tell if the water is safe? Unfortunately, even if you see suspicious looking algae, you can’t tell if it is toxic just by appearance. The state has decided to post year-round warnings instead of testing. This doesn’t mean the toxins are there all the time though. If in doubt, keep your pets out of stagnant water.
What symptoms would you see with blue-green algae poisoning? There are several possible toxins, so the symptoms vary from vomiting, diarrhea and appetite loss to stumbling, drooling and convulsions. The symptoms occur within 1 to 2 days of exposure to contaminated water. Rinsing an animal with clean water directly after contact can help, but if you see any symptoms you think are related to blue-green algae, call the veterinarian as soon as possible.