Why is blue-green algae in lakes dangerous to people and dogs?

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Written By Kampretz Bianca

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Even if the summer weather invites you to swim, warnings about blue-green algae should be taken seriously: some bathing waters are contaminated with blue-green algae, so-called cyanobacteria. Explosive blooms of blue-green algae occur especially in the summer months when water temperatures are high.

Water quality is generally good

Basically, we can hardly complain about the water quality of our waters. O European Environment Agency (EEA) checked the quality of bathing water throughout Germany. Almost all lakes in Bavaria are certified as having good water quality. Only a few lakes perform poorly.

What is blue-green algae?

Blue-green algae is bacteria found throughout water and is harmless in normal concentrations. However, they can become dangerous if they multiply quickly. When these so-called cyanobacteria (from the Greek κυανός kyanós, “blue”) develop in large numbers, water quality deteriorates significantly.

Blue-green algae produce toxic substances

Blue-green algae produce a number of toxic substances, e.g. B. can harm fish and zooplankton. Some of these poisons are among the most powerful natural poisons. They can also be harmful to the health of people who bathe. The main danger is swallowing the water.

Symptoms: Vomiting, diarrhea and shortness of breath due to blue-green algae

Blue-green algae can cause nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, skin irritation, red eyes, fever and shortness of breath in people. In the worst case, paralysis of the respiratory muscles and damage to the nervous system can also occur. You shouldn’t take risks, especially with young children. Because if you swallow a lot of water contaminated with blue-green algae, your life is at risk. Therefore, warnings about blue-green algae infestation should be taken very seriously. Local authorities realize this and warn bathers with signs.

Is blue-green algae dangerous for dogs?

Contact with blue-green algae can also be fatal for dogs. They swallow them while swimming or lick their fur after bathing. If your dog has been poisoned with blue-green algae, symptoms will appear within a short period of time. The dog then tends to have increased salivation, panting, tremors, colic, diarrhea and vomiting. In this case, you must go to the veterinarian immediately because the animal’s life is at risk.

How do you recognize blue green algae?

Blue-green algae is not blue, but it forms green streaks in the water – 8 or 12 inches below the water’s surface. However, these are usually not distributed throughout the lake, but only in some places.

The Federal Environment Agency gives the following tip: Enter the water slowly, without disturbing the mud. If you are knee-deep in water and can see your feet, nothing will stop you from having fun at this point.

Blue-green algae die-off leads to fish deaths

If masses of blue-green algae die, another problem arises: a large amount of oxygen is consumed when the bacteria are decomposed. This can result in fish deaths due to lack of oxygen.

How does excess blue-green algae occur?

A high nutrient content leads to strong blue-green algae blooms – for example, through wastewater with detergent residues. Rising water temperatures can also rapidly increase the growth of blue-green algae.

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