Lake Olmstead tests positive for dangerous algae

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AUGUSTA, Ga. (WJBF) – Cyanobacteria or green-blue algae has been found in Lake Olmstead.

Three dogs in North Carolina are dead after swimming in a lake that contained cyanobacteria.

The Riverkeeper says that same bacteria has been found in Lake Olmstead.

“They’re at least four types of cyanobacteria present, currently in Lake Olmstead. We know, starting yesterday, we noticed an algal bloom and it is growing so we’re at the beginning of this algal bloom and unfortunately, there is blue-green algae in it,” said Tonya Bonitatibus.

Blue-green algae is not technically an algae. It’s bacteria. Experts say toxins from the bacteria can damage the kidneys, liver, gastrointestinal tract, and nervous system in people and animals. Pets are especially vulnerable to this bacteria because when it comes into contact with an animal, it spreads rapidly and could result in death.

Dr. Dustin Hawkins is a veterinarian at Westside Animal Hospital.

He said, “Usually, symptoms like weakness, lethargy, sometimes vomiting, sometimes seizures can show up. Treatment wise, usually supportive care is what we’ll start off with first. Of course, trying to figure out what it is but a lot of times that can be unsuccessful for treatment.”

Right now, it’s algae growing season.

“It’s super hot out which is pretty common that’s when we see these big algo blooms,” said Bonitatibus.

The blue-green algae’s presence in Lake Olmstead has people wondering how it got there.

“One of our main focuses right now is to figure out what’s feeding this? Why is it growing? I expect it’ll probably continue for a good little bit,” said Bonitatibus.

She continued, “We need to be mindful. If it’s not blue-green algae if you find a water body that is covered in algae, no matter what kind it is, there’s a food source first off that can make you sick and two you shouldn’t be swimming in it, to begin with.”

The US Army Corps of Engineers says blue-green algae is not an issue at Lake Thurmond.

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