A toxic blue-green algae bloom known as Cyanobacteria has been discovered at the popular McNary National Wildlife Refuge in Walla Walla County. "Out of an abundance of caution," the Lake has been closed.

"McNary visitors should not swim, fish, boat, drink the water or engage in any other water contact activities until further testing shows the toxins reduced to safe levels. Typically, the toxin remains in the water for about one week after the bloom disappears," a press release from the Walla Walla County Department of Community Health stated.

What Causes Toxic Algae Blooms?

Missouri Dept. of Natural Resources
Missouri Dept. of Natural Resources

Algae is always present in water, but when there are excess nutrients, and the water itself warms up, like during a heatwave, then the algae can release toxins.

Unfortunately, as temperatures continue to rise with Climate Change, incidents of dogs dying from swimming in contaminated water have become more common. You can read more about this on Fetch, by Web M.D.

There is a list of symptoms you can watch for below, but the poison can claim your pet within days. This is why it's important to pay attention to warnings like the information above. And to educate yourself on what to look for in the water.

How to Spot Toxic Water

Dept. of Environmental Conservation, New York
Dept. of Environmental Conservation, New York

The Idaho Humane Society says, "If you look across a body of water and there appears to be pea-green slime, bright-colored “moss”, or bright green circles across the surface, this is toxic algae."

How Do Humans Get Toxic Blue-Green Algae Poisoning?

  • Inhalation (breathing it in)
  • Ingestion (swallowing the infected water)

What are the Effects of Toxic Blue-Green Algae on Humans?

Ontario County New York
Ontario County New York

The effects of what Cyanobacteria can do to humans is a pretty long list, and the symptoms range from irritating to causing permanent damage.

  • skin irritation
  • sore throat
  • blisters of the mouth
  • headache
  • nausea
  • stomach cramps
  • diarrhea
  • fever
  • vomiting
  • muscle pain
  • joint pain
  • liver damage

What are the Effects of Toxic Blue-Green Algae on Animals?

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

A Pet Safety page from the ASPCA tells us that serious neurologic or liver damage can result from inhaling or swallowing toxic water. The full list symptoms gets more heartbreaking as you go down the list.

  • Panting
  • Excessive drooling
  • Disorientation
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Seizures
  • Liver failure
  • Respiratory failure
  • Ultimately death

For more information on Washington State toxic algae, click here.

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