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Dogs and harmful algal blooms: New York Sea Grant brochure alerts pet owners of potentially lethal toxins

by jmaloni


Thu, Sep 11th 2014 06:20 pm

New York Sea Grant has announced the publication of "Dogs and Harmful Algal Blooms." Harmful algal blooms, especially in the state's fresh water, are overgrowths of cyanobacteria (blue-green algae) that cause water quality problems in lakes and ponds, including the occasional production of potent toxins. These toxins can poison people, household pets, waterfowl and livestock.

Because HABs are increasing in many areas, the number of dog poisonings from cyanobacterial toxins also is on the rise. To keep canine companions safe around local waterways, this important brochure provides pet owners a safety checklist of symptoms of HABs poisoning and steps that can be taken if a dog is exposed to HABs.

Author Dave MacNeill, a NYSG extension educator from SUNY Oswego, began noticing more and more reports of dogs becoming ill from the toxins produced by HABs in the Lake Ontario area.

"People might get sick, but people's dogs are actually dying," he said.

In compiling this brochure, MacNeill enlisted the aid of Dr. Karyn Bischoff, a toxicologist at Cornell University Veterinary College; Scott Kishbaugh of the state Department of Environmental Conservation/NYSDEC; Dr. Lesley V. D'Anglada of the USEPA; John Wickham, NOAA National Ocean Service; colleagues in the Sea Grant network.

Bischoff said, "Cyanobacterial poisonings are under-reported in domestic animals, because people haven't been aware of the problem. That could be changing since HABs have become more prominent in the news, as exemplified by the recent microcystin bloom in Lake Ontario that affected the water supply of Toledo, Ohio."

"This brochure will be a great addition to New York Sea Grant's outreach activities informing the public and management community of the rise and threats of freshwater cyanoHABs," Wickham said.

Dr. Greg Boyer of SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry, who has researched HABs extensively - from blue-greens in upstate lakes to brown tide in Long Island bays - and Dr. Chris Gobler of Stony Brook University's School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences, an internationally known expert in HABs, also were consulted on the brochure.

In addition to the state's two Great Lakes, Finger Lakes, great river systems and their tributaries, blue-greens were detected in Suffolk County on Eastern Long Island this summer.

Gobler said, "NYSDEC now monitors and reports on blue-green algae blooms throughout the state. Despite its small size and limited number of lakes, Suffolk County has consistently had more lakes listed by NYSDEC for blue-green algae than any other county in (the state)."

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Center for Sponsored Coastal Ocean Research Funding provided resources for the development and printing of this publication. It is available for download at http://www.seagrant.sunysb.edu/btide/pdfs/HABsBrochure-0814.pdf.

Find more information on harmful algal blooms on the New York Sea Grant website at http://www.seagrant.sunysb.edu/articles/t/harmful-algal-blooms-what-s-new.

For interested groups, multiple hard copies may be made available. Contact MacNeill at 315-312-3042 or [email protected].

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