Pets should be wary of estuary, too

As we all well know, the Martin County Health Department is warning people to avoid contact with the river from the St. Lucie Lock east to the St. Lucie Inlet, and north to the Stuart Causeway…especially in areas where the blue-green algae is visible. Please don’t forget to keep your pets out of these areas, too. They (along with the rest of the species that live in and enjoy this eco-system) are innocent victims of this big mess and you can no longer let your animals run free near or in the water.

This blue-green algae is a microscopic bacteria known as Cyanobacteria. It can produce toxins (such as microcystins and anatoxins) that affect people, livestock and pets that swim in and drink from the water. Blue-green algae grow and colonize to form “blooms” that give the water this blue-green appearance. Because the algae float, they can be blown by the wind into thick, concentrated areas near the shore, thus making them easily accessible to livestock, pets and people.

While most blue-green algae blooms do not produce toxins, it is not possible to determine the presence of toxins without testing. Thus, all blooms should be considered potentially toxic. Very small exposures, such as a few mouthfuls of algae-contaminated water, could result in fatal poisoning. Microcystins can result in liver damage or failure. Aggressive, immediate treatment is necessary to help treat this quick-acting, potentially fatal poison.

Anatoxins result in neurotoxicity. Death can follow as a result of respiratory paralysis. Again, it’s imperative to seek immediate veterinary care if you suspect your pet has encountered these toxins.

These are not fun things to write about, but it’s important to know the facts so you can keep yourself, your family and your pets safe.

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