Blue Green Algae A Threat On North Coast
The Humboldt County Department of Health and Human Services wants to warn the public about the dangers of blue green algae, a common sight in many lagoons and rivers, the could carry a harmful toxin.
Newschannel three’s Cameron Cramer tells us why the algae pose a special threat to our four-legged friends.
"The kinds of conditions it tends to thrive in are warm, slow moving water with lots of nutrients.” Said Environmental Health Specialist Harriet Hill.
In other words, Humboldt County in the summertime. Blue green algae are a plant that's been around for three billion years, and some of the algae may contain toxins that can be dangerous.
"The toxin tends to get released when the algae cells are killed or injured." Said Hill.
Health and Human Services is warning recreation users on Big Lagoon, the south fork of the Eel River, the Van Duzen River and Freshwater Lagoon to keep an eye out for the algae, but it can be found in any freshwater body in Humboldt County. Kids and pets are the most at risk.
ldquo;The reason children and dogs are more vulnerable, is because they tend to play a lot in the water and drink a lot of water." Said Hill.
While the algae can produce a rash and flu like symptoms in humans, it's not considered life threatening, but that's not the case for canines. It's killed eleven dogs in the area since 2001.
"Dogs in particular, are more vulnerable, because after they play round in the water and get coated with water and algae, they'll come out and lick their fur. If a dog happens to encounter an atoxin a, which is a neurotoxin, they can get very ill, very quickly." Said Hill.
Within a half hour the dog can show signs of fatigue, gastrointestinal problems, which may eventually lead to death. And rather than gambling to see if the algae carries the toxins, hill has some simple advice:"If you see large masses of algae, big masses of green or brown, just keep you kids or dogs in particular away from those areas."