A Co Kerry vet has warned farmers and other animal owners about a potentially fatal blue-green algae found at the edges of rivers and lakes.
Killarney vet Danny O'Sullivan is owner of the All Care Veterinary Hospital.
He issued the warning after he treated a convulsing dog at his clinic. The dog had symptoms typical of cyanobacteria.
Blue-green algae is a bacteria that is commonly found in large bodies of water that, for the most part, lie dormant and are of no risk to animal or human health.
However, during periods of increased temperatures, this strain of cyanobacteria can multiply and appear as a scum on the water’s surface.
The consumption of this scum can be fatal for domestic and agricultural animals.
O’Sullivan told the Irish Farmers Journal: “The weather conditions we have been experiencing lately have created an optimal breeding ground for blue-green algae to multiply and present itself as a scum at the edges of lakes and rivers.
“After the animal has consumed the contaminated water, they can begin convulsing within 20 minutes.
“The dog presented to us had previously been in full health, with no prior health complications, but unfortunately died within a couple of hours of stopping to take a drink while on a walk at Killarney National Park.”
Blue-green algae. \ Danny O'Sullivan
The vet said “to keep your pets and animals safe, we must prevent exposure to water affected by the blue-green algae, especially if there is a visible scum on the surface".
“Dogs should be kept on leads while out walking. This can prevent poisoning, but also has many other safety benefits such prevention of altercations with other animals.”
If an animal does come in contact with water contaminated with the bacteria, there is a very short time window to flush the bacteria from their system.
Prevention is much more effective than treatment in the case of blue-green algae.
Kerry County Council has been alerted and will begin to conduct water tests if another case presents itself.
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