Warning to pet owners over toxic blue-green algae found in Chesterfield
Scientists are warning about blue-green algae which has been identified in Chesterfield and can be fatal for pets and harmful to people’s health.
Also known as cyanobacteria, the toxic blooms have already been found this year in several places across the UK, including Linacre Middle Reservoir, and could appear in other water courses locally as a result of recent warm, dry weather.
Blue-green algae can occur naturally in ponds, lakes, rivers, reservoirs and canals, and is toxic to anyone who swallows contaminated water or has skin contact with it.
The blooms have caused the deaths of dogs, horses, fish and other animals across the UK, according to the UK Centre for Ecology and Hydrology (UKCEH).
People who come into contact with the blue-green algae – such as open water swimmers and canoeists – could suffer vomiting, diarrhoea, fever, skin rashes or muscle and joint pain.
Ecologists at UKCEH are now asking the public to download their free Bloomin’ Algae app and report details of suspected outbreaks with a photograph.
This will provide an early warning to other members of the public, thereby helping people and their pets to enjoy the natural environment safely.
Professor Laurence Carvalho, a freshwater ecologist at UKCEH, who developed the app, said: “Blue-green algae tend to flourish in the UK from June to the autumn, during long spells of warm and dry weather.
“They are becoming more frequent due to climate change and the increasing amount of nutrients entering our waters – for example, from sewage or fertilisers.
“By reporting blooms via the Bloomin’ Algae app, the public is providing a rapid, early warning about outbreaks and helping to give a comprehensive picture of these harmful blooms in and across the UK.”
Parents are advised to keep their young children out of water where there is suspected blue-green algae – and dog walkers should keep their pets on a leash and wash their coats down as soon as possible if they go into contaminated water.
Anyone concerned that they or their pets have been in contact with blue-green algae is advised to seek medical advice.
For more information and to find out how to download the Bloomin’ Algae app, visit www.ceh.ac.uk/algal-blooms/bloomin-algae.