Toxic algae blooms are back in some of our lakes in Upstate New York, and the blue-green algae can make humans sick and even kill our pets.

Right now in NYS, there are 19 bodies of water contaminated with the toxic algae and a few are close to home.

DEC.NY.GOV

So far a small portion of Craine Lake in Madison County and Plymouth Reservoir in Chenango County has high algae toxins lakewide. Last year many beaches in CNY were closed due to harmful algal blooms (HABs) that not only make humans sick but can kill pets and livestock.

The DEC says people not on public water supplies, like a seasonal camp, should not drink surface water during an algal bloom, even if it is treated, because in-home treatments such as boiling, disinfecting water with chlorine or ultraviolet (UV), and water filtration units do not protect people from HABs toxins.

It could be deadly if pets or livestock come into contact with HABs as large quantities of cyanobacteria cells can stick to their fur and be ingested when the animal grooms itself. HABs may release a fast-acting nerve or liver toxin that can be dangerous for pets, particularly dogs that swim within blooms. 

The symptoms of HAB exposure for animals include:

  • Vomiting, diarrhea, loss of appetite
  • Excessive salivation or drooling
  • Stumbling, seizures, convulsions, paralysis
  • Disorientation, inactivity, excessive tiredness
  • Fast heart rate, and difficulty breathing

If you see or suspect any of these symptoms, particularly within 30 minutes to a few hours after exposure to an algae bloom, seek immediate veterinarian care.

Reduce the risk of dog poisoning by cyanobacterial toxins by following these steps: 

• Keep your dog on a leash near shorelines.
• Don’t let dogs wade, drink the water or eat/walk-in beach debris.
• If your dog goes in the toxic water get them out, don’t let them lick their fur or paws, wash and dry them thoroughly with fresh water.
• Watch them closely for any symptoms described above.
• Notify the public health department or state natural resource management.

There are more than 7,000 lakes in the New York, and most of them are not sampled routinely so if your favorite swimming spot isn't on the contaminated list doesn't mean it's safe.