Harmful Algal Blooms have closed four New York beaches as many are looking for relief from the extreme heat that has hit the state.

Most algae are harmless. However, some species of algae can produce toxins that can be harmful to people and animals. The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) says blooms of algal species that can produce toxins are referred to as harmful algal blooms (HABs).

Depending on the weather and the characteristics of the lake, HABs may be short-lived (appearing and disappearing in hours) or long-lived (persisting for several weeks or more).

Credit - NYS DEC
Credit - NYS DEC

Animal Exposure Concerns

It's not just people that need to avoid the toxic algae. It can be toxic to animals. HABs cells can stick to animal fur and become concentrated when the animal cleans itself. The DEC recommends watching your dog for any of the following systems if they've been swimming in suspected toxic water.

  • Stumbling, seizures, convulsions, paralysis
  • Excessive salivation or drooling
  • Disorientation, inactivity or depression
  • Elevated heart rate, and difficulty breathing

If you suspect your dog has been affected, rinse them in clean water and call your vet. "HABs may release a fast-acting nerve toxin that can be dangerous for pets, particularly dogs that swim within blooms."

Credit - Marina Helena via Unsplash
Credit - Marina Helena via Unsplash

Beach Closures

Four New York beaches are closed due to HABs. You can get up-to-date beach information from the DEC HABs map. You're also advised to call for the latest update before heading out.

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