Dog walkers have been told not to let their pets drink from a lake filled with toxic blue-green algae after several pooches died.
The unfortunate animals had drunk water from Highams Park Lake in Epping Forest, a popular walking spot in north east London.
A statement on Highams Park News reads: “Warning issued for Highams Park lake as Toxic algae found,” My London reports.
“The Council has been made aware of a number of dogs dying after (it is believed) they drank from Highams Park Lake.
“Post mortem results show the presence of a toxic Blue/Green Algae.
“The City of London Corporation, which manages Epping Forest, is warning visitors against swimming, fishing or taking dogs into the water at Highams Park Lake until testing for suspected toxic blue-green algae blooms have been completed.”
Meanwhile, Epping Forest City of London posted on its social media said: “Bringing your canine companion to Epping Forest? Please take care near water and don’t let dogs drink from or swim in any of the ponds or rivers.”
“Water quality is not monitored,” it added.
Symptoms of blue-green algae poisoning can occur very quickly (within 15 minutes to one hour of exposure) and even a small amount can be lethal to a dog, so it’s important to act quickly and contact your vet immediately.
Signs to look out for include vomiting, twitching, seizures, diarrhoea, increased thirst, drooling, breathing difficulties, or a collapse.
What is blue-green algae?
Blue-green algae, technically known as cyanobacteria, are microscopic organisms that are naturally present in lakes and streams. Under certain conditions, blue-green algae can become abundant in warm, shallow, undisturbed, nutrient-rich surface waters that receive a lot of sunlight.
When this occurs, blue-green algae can form blooms that discolor the water, or produce floating mats or scums on the water’s surface. Blooms can also form on rocks, along the shoreline, and at the bottom of a waterbody.
These are called benthic blooms. It might be a harmful blue-green algae bloom if the water is blue-green, green, yellow, white, brown, purple, or red, has a paint-like appearance, or if there is scum on the water surface.
Some blue-green algae can produce toxins, some do not. However, exposure to any blue-green algae blooms can cause health effects in people and animals when water with blooms is touched, swallowed, or when airborne droplets are inhaled.
In humans exposure to high levels of blue-green algae and their toxins can cause diarrhoea, nausea or vomiting; skin, eye or throat irritation; and allergic reactions or breathing difficulties.