Blue-green algae linked to livestock deaths in N.D.

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MINOT, N.D. - The state health department says it has already had several reports of livestock deaths linked to blue-green algae this summer.

Blue-green algae discolor water and can cause foam, scum or mats to appear on the surface.

When severe blooms occur, the water can have the appearance of spilled green paint or green pea soup. Blue-green algae can also produce toxins that can make people and animals that sallow it sick.

Symptoms include diarrhea and vomiting; numb lips; tingling fingers and toes; dizziness; or rashes, hives or skin blisters.

The health department says recent reports of blue-green algae blooms in Stanley Pond in Mountrail County and Harvey Reservoir in Wells County have prompted officials to issue exposure advisories at those recreational areas.

It is urging everyone to avoid contact with or swallowing water contaminated by blue-green algae, and to protect pets and livestock from waters that are affected.

The NDDoH and the Department of Agriculture, Animal Health Division, recommends these steps to avoid exposure to cyanotoxins:

• Respect advisories announced by public health authorities.
• Do not swim, water ski, or boat in areas where the water is discolored or where you see foam, scum or mats of green or blue-green algae on the water.
• If you accidentally swim in water that might have a cyanobacteria bloom, rinse off with fresh water as soon as possible.
• Do not let pets or livestock swim in or drink from areas where the water is discolored or where you see foam, scum, or mats of algae.
• If pets (especially dogs) swim in scummy water, rinse them off immediately – do not let them lick the algae (and toxins) off.
• Do not irrigate lawns or golf courses with pond water that looks scummy or smells bad.

For more information about the effects of blue-green algae blooms on pets and livestock, contact the Animal Health Division, North Dakota Department of Agriculture at 701.328.2655. For more information on public health issues or to report a suspected blue-green algae bloom, visit the NDDoH Harmful Algal Blooms (HABs) website at or contact the North Dakota Department of Health, Division of Water Quality at 701.328.5210.