The toxic green-blue algae was detected in Turtle Pond and Harlem Meer in Central Park, as well as the large pond in Prospect Park where the New York Department of Environmental Conservation discovered “dangerlously high levels of toxins,” according to NBC.
The algae made headlines when it shut down swimming at several New Jersey lakes this summer. Earlier this year, a North Carolina woman lost her three dogs after a playdate in affected water, and another pup in Georgia suffered the same fate.
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The blue-green algae is known formally as Cyanobacteria. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, it naturally occurs in bodies of water, but in warmer, nutrient-rich water, the bacteria reproduces and can cause a bloom.
If a person or a pet gets ill from the Cyanobacteria, they likely would have ingested impacted waters without realizing it, or swam or did other recreational activities in water that has the Cyanobacteria.
Some symptoms pets can suffer are: “loss of appetite, loss of energy, vomiting, stumbling and falling, foaming at the mouth, diarrhea, convulsions, excessive drooling, tremors, and seizures, or any other unexplained sickness after being in contact with water,” according to the CDC.
EPA states that symptoms can occur anywhere from 15 minutes to exposure to several days after.
One challenge with Cyanobacteria is that sometimes it’s not visible above water, instead resting below the water’s surface. When visible, the blooms can range in color; sometimes they are blue, green, brown or even red.
If you can’t spot it, other telltale sings include slimy or foamy water, or mats or scum on on the water’s surface. Another warning sign is foul-smelling water.