Blue Green Algae In Missouri


The toxins produced by blue-green algae are called cyanotoxins. There are many different cyanotoxins, but most fall within the following two categories:

  • Neurotoxins (affect the nervous system)
  • Hepatotoxins (affect the liver)

Human Health Concerns

Drinking water concerns are largely addressed through treatment at the water treatment plant. The effect of toxins on swimmers is of greater concern. If a lake or river appears to be experiencing an algae bloom of any kind, don't swim in it. It's also a good idea to shower off after swimming in any natural water body.

Human exposure to cyanotoxins can result in:

  • Skin rashes, red skin, hives or blisters
  • Irritation of the eyes and nose, sore throat, earaches and breathing problems
  • Abdominal cramping, diarrhea, vomiting, headache, fever, muscle weakness. In extreme cases, pneumonia, liver damage and kidney failure have been reported.

Pet Health Concerns

Because they don't hesitate to drink and swim in waters experiencing blooms, pets and livestock are more susceptible to blue-green toxins than humans. In some cases, death can come quickly, within minutes. The best protection for your animal is to keep it away from water with visible blooms and to bathe it immediately after suspected exposure to blue-green algae.

How to treat people or animals that have been exposed to cyanotoxins:

  • If you do come into contact with contaminated water, rinse off with clean, fresh water as soon as possible.
  • Pets that have been swimming in an area with an algae bloom may ingest significant amounts of toxins by licking their fur after leaving the water. Thoroughly rinse off your pets with clean, fresh water.
  • Seek medical treatment ASAP if you think you, your pet, or your livestock might have been poisoned by toxic blooms.
  • Remove people from the exposure and treat the symptoms.