Posted by: Vicki Burns | May 21, 2012

Early Season Toxic Algae Alerts Issued In Kansas and Oklahoma

I’ve been following the news about health alerts for toxic algae blooms and was surprised to see some appearing for lakes in both Kansas and Oklahoma already this season. Those states are directly south of Manitoba, although over 1200 kilometers away.

image of lake with very green colour from algae bloom

Milford Lake, Kansas Toxic Algae bloom 2011- photo courtesy of KDHE

Unfortunately, there have already been 2 dog deaths in southern Oklahoma as a result of the dogs ingesting some of the toxic algae. Many people are still not aware that their pets can be at serious risk if they go into water in which the blue-green algae are present. Its not simply that the dogs are drinking the water but they tend to lick themselves when they get out of the water so can be ingesting some of the toxins during that process.

Officials in Kansas were issuing warnings to the public this week, in light of events in 2011.  Last year, blue-green algae outbreaks in public lakes killed at least five dogs and sickened at least 13 people. Kansas Department of Health and the Environment issued warnings at 16 lakes last year. They are uncertain if this year will be as bad as last year for the toxic blooms but they’re not taking any chances in making sure the public is informed of the risks.

In Manitoba, we are hoping that any alerts about blue-green algae blooms will be at least 2 months away. Lake Winnipeg is such a huge lake, covering almost 25,000 square kilometers, as well as our warm season starting later, that the blooms usually don’t appear till much later in the season.

Tomorrow Living Lakes Canada is holding their first annual meeting in Winnipeg and kicking off a conference co-hosted by the Lake Winnipeg Foundation. The focus will be on climate related factors that are contributing to the increasing algae blooms. Hopefully we’ll see more action coming out of this conference to start reversing the trend of the last couple of decades. Less rather than more is what we want when it comes to blue-green algae blooms.

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