Officials testing potentially toxic algae in Lake Olmstead

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Monday, August 12, 2019

News 12 at 11 o'clock

AUGUSTA, GA (WRDW/WAGT) -- Veterans for Clean Water and Savannah Riverkeeper are testing a substance found in Lake Olmstead that could be the deadly algae cyanobacteria.

The bacteria recently made headlines for killing pets in North Carolina and Georgia.

"Cyanobacteria are bacteria that live in freshwater lakes and streams," said Dr. Jason Norman of the Hammond Hills Animal Hospital. "They're also present in brackish water."

Cyanobacteria can be broken down into two toxins: microcystins and anatoxins.

"[Microcystins] will cause liver failure, so that is going to cause vomiting and diarrhea," said Dr. Norman. "[Anotoxins are] more of a neurotoxin...and that will produce your muscle tremors and stiffness."

There is no antidote for the bacteria, but your dog can still be treated if they ingest it. Dr. Norman recommends taking your dog to the vet as soon as possible if it's showing signs it may have been exposed.
His best advice is to avoid algae altogether.

"Even though there are many algal blooms that are completely safe and do not produce toxins, there's no way to know the difference without lab testing," he said.

As for the substance in Lake Olmstead, officials tested it Monday. They'll have the results back around 11 am Tuesday.

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