Miller cautions NYers to beware harmful algal blooms

Dog owners in particular should watch out for potentially lethal poisonings  

Assemblyman Brian Miller (R,I,C,Ref-New Hartford) would like to caution New Yorkers, particularly those who own dogs, about harmful algal blooms, which have appeared on water bodies across the nation and are causing illness and death in dogs after swimming and ingesting water made toxic by HABs.

“We are so fortunate to have beautiful water bodies all throughout our community with walking trails or bike paths that allow for residents to get their daily exercise, and often that exercise extends to their dogs as well,” said Miller. “Many dogs love to swim, and while this is normally a wonderful bonding experience between pet and owner, New Yorkers should be aware of harmful algal blooms and the affect they can have on people and pets.”

Also known as cyanobacteria, HABs are blue-green algae that can appear in water bodies during periods of high heat or in bright sunny areas. While algae is common in most water bodies, HABs are different in that they can produce types of poison that can make people and animals sick or even cause death. HABs can appear in fresh and salt water, even in manmade water bodies such as pools, fountains or landscaping ponds.

Miller cautions New Yorkers to keep a close eye on children and pets, both during and after swimming, as some symptoms can take affect very quickly, while others can take a few days to develop. Always rinse off your pets (and self) after swimming, and try to discourage pets from drinking the water. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, symptoms include rashes, weakness or staggering, stomach cramps, nausea, diarrhea or vomiting, drooling, difficulty breathing and convulsions or seizures.

If you or someone you love has recently been swimming and is experiencing these symptoms, contact your veterinarian or seek medical attention immediately.

Physically, HABs can take on many forms and colors, though they always appear on the surface of water and often have a strong, nauseating smell. Because HABs are difficult to identify, the state Department of Environmental Conservation has set up an online form where the public can report potential HABs to have investigated and also provides a map of recent HAB locations. Visit nysdec.maps.arcgis.com/apps/webappviewer/index.html?id=ae91142c812a4ab997ba739ed9723e6e.

For more information or to report a suspected sighting, visit dec.ny.gov/chemical/77118.html.

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