Could blue-green algae be lurking in water near your home?


WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) —¬†After one Wilmington pet owner says her three dogs all died from being exposed to a certain type of bacteria in a nearby pond, people are wondering how you can spot it?

Experts explain what this bacteria called cyanobacteria, also known as blue-green algae is, and how it can be deadly.

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“Here’s the really bad part about this stuff, is that even experts – this is their area of expertise – cannot tell the difference between this and other things just by looking at it,” veterinarian Ali Travis said.

It may be called blue-green algae, Travis says don’t be fooled by the name.

“It says it’s blue-green algae, but it can also be red and it can be brown and it can be pea soup color,” she said. “Some people have described it as looking like spilled red paint laying on the surface of the water.”

Also known as cyanobacteria, Travis says blue-green algae can be floating around in ponds, lakes and other stagnant water.

After a pet owner says her dogs were exposed to the toxic bacteria and died, how can you keep your pets safe?

“The best indicator for your blue-green algaes is the tint of the water will change,” Walt Pollard, whos owns Aquatic Resource Management said. “Typically, you might have a neon green color to the water it might be slight or it might be pretty intense.”

He says sometimes blue-green algae could be lurking where you don’t even know it.

Pollard says he has spotted a few blue-green algae blooms in Wilmington. He says an easy way to prevent those blooms is monthly water treatments.

“So we will get EPA state-approved herbicides and algaecides and apply it to the water, and we can get it under control and then maintain it from there,” he said.

Pollard says we’ve had a little more growth than usual this summer.

“Because it’s extremely warm weather and the lack of rain we’ve had,” he said.

If your pet is exposed though, Travis says they can start showing symptoms like stumbling, vomiting, even seizures in as quickly as 15 minutes.

“Unfortunately, besides supportive care, there’s no way to really counteract these toxins,” Travis said. “You hope they didn’t get enough.”

Travis has some advice during this time of year.

“The EPA issued a statement said when in doubt, stay out.”

Travis says they are giving each of their patients at River Road Animal Hospital information and tips about the blue-green algae.

Pollard also says he only sees a small amount of blue-green algae blooms, but that it usually goes up in the summer.