[Tragically, the death of a dog in St. Paul, Minnesota this week was blamed on blue-green algae. Last year, we published the post below, sharing instructions from the California Department of Public Health indicating what you should do whether your child or pet makes their way into this toxic water.
With this week's news, and algae bloom season in full swing, it seemed a good time to revisit the post below. We encourage all parents and pet owners to read and bookmark this post, so it's easily accessible when needed.]
I’ve worked in the water filters and filtration business for more than ten years. When first launching WaterFilters.NET, our goal was never to self-define ourselves as ‘industry leading.’ At the end of the day, those are just boilerplate words. Our goal was, and still is, to become the go-to source providing clean drinking water and 360 degree service to our customers and to the world. Modest, I know.
One observation I’ve made over the last decade is that fear has the potential to drive a lot of our new and returning customers. While our business depends on new and returning customers, generating traffic based on fear is not an arena I am comfortable playing in. I’d much rather you come to us as a customer after we’ve already shared our knowledge to provide you with solutions.
You have likely seen a fair amount of headlines this summer with stories discussing either a boil water advisory or an algae bloom. A particularly large algal bloom in China this year actually became a tourist attraction. If you weren’t able to make it to China to see it, I’ve included an image below.
An algae bloom occurs when conditions are just ripe enough to support rapid growth in algal plants, typically during the summer months. They look gross enough that you would think nearly anyone would be deterred from even touching water where an algae bloom is present. The problem is that yucky looking water is simply not enough to deter some, including children and animals.
Information provided by the California Department of Public Health confirms that children, with a smaller body weight, are far more susceptible to cyanobacteria, or blue green algae, due to accidental intake or even dermal contact. And in the case of dogs, several tragic deaths have been documented due to exposure. For those that have kids and dogs, especially swimmers, you understand that keeping both out of the water involves more than just saying ‘no.’
Both children and dogs exposed to an algae bloom should be washed immediately with clean drinking water. Dogs as quickly as possible, as their tendency is to intake more water and lick their fur. Kids displaying symptoms of algae bloom exposure including rashes, skin and eye irritation, allergic reactions, or gastrointestinal upset, are advised to see a doctor as soon as possible – and to be very clear regarding what is likely causing the symptoms. In the case of dogs, symptoms leading to death can occur within one hour of exposure.
If your dog later experiences symptoms including lethargy, difficulty breathing, vomiting, diarrhea, muscle rigidity or convulsion – it should be taken immediately to an emergency vet – who should be given very clear details regarding the algae bloom exposure. And while this may sound gross, many state authorities do also ask that the vomit and diarrhea be collected in clean plastic bags so samples can be tested, and more dogs protected.
Fortunately, the most common sense solution for avoiding dangers associated with algae blooms is simply to stay away – and not drink the water. An algae bloom will also pose little risk to municipal water, as this water is treated. If there is ever any risk to municipal water, your city or township will likely release a boil water advisory through standard media channels.
A boil water advisory is commonly issued whenever there is a risk to the municipal water supply, whether this involves a water main break or sudden loss of pressure. These types of instances can pose a risk of bacteria making its way into the water supply and increase the likelihood of waterborne illnesses.
While a boil water advisory is relatively straight forward to follow, one step that is easily forgotten is the need to change all point-of-entry and point-of-use water filters after these alerts are lifted. And since I am admittedly not an unbiased source when it comes to the need to buy more water filters, I’ll note that this advice comes directly from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC.)
Those of you connected to us on Facebook, Twitter and Google+ channels – or those on our email lists – are some of the first to be made aware of boil water advisories, as we commit to informing our customers and networks of any drinking water risks daily. If you have been hearing more about boil water advisories, I would encourage you to follow these channels or connect with us at firstname.lastname@example.org to be added to our distribution lists.
There is probably nothing that is more terrifying than something making it into our water supply – and nothing more tragic than accidental exposure. If you are ever in doubt of your water safety, I encourage you to connect with your local municipality to get the facts you need to be confident in yours, your family’s and your pet’s health. An ounce of prevention being worth a pound of cure is perhaps the most fitting and commonsense insight I can provide.