Dog owners warned to watch out for deadly algae at Priory Country Park

Blue Green Algae on the lake at Priory Country Park
Blue Green Algae on the lake at Priory Country Park

Dog owners are being warned to keep their furry friends on a lead and out of the water at Priory Country Park as a new ‘bloom’ of Blue-green Algae has developed on the lake there.

Blue-green algae can produce potent toxins that can result in a range of health effects in people and animals.

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Under certain conditions, blue-green algae can become abundant in warm, shallow, undisturbed, nutrient-rich surface waters that receive a lot of sunlight.

When this occurs, blue-green algae can form blooms that discolour the water or produce floating mats or scum on the water’s surface. Blooms can also form on rocks, along the shoreline, and at the bottom of a waterbody.

Blue-green algae bacteria cannot be seen with the naked eye unless they clump together. When this happens, or when blue-green algae blooms on the water, it can look like:

  • a blue-green scum has appeared on the surface of the water – this sometimes looks a bit like pea soup
  • green flakes, greenish bundles or brown dots in a pond, lake or stream
  • a green, blue-green or greenish-brown paint on the surface of the water
  • foam around the edges of ponds and lakes

Animal welfare charity, the Blue Cross says dogs are at risk from blue-green algae if they swim in or drink contaminated water, or if they get algae caught in their fur and ingest it while cleaning themselves later on.

This is because blooms of blue-green algae can produce harmful toxins which stop a dog’s liver from functioning properly.

Exposure to toxic blue-green algae is often fatal for dogs and it can cause long-term health problems in those that survive.

Seek veterinary advice

Effects on people coming into contact with toxic scums include skin rashes, eye irritations, vomiting and diarrhoea, fever and pains in muscles and joints.

If you, or your pet, have become unwell after contact with water that you think may be contaminated with blue-green algae, it is strongly recommended that you seek immediate medical and/or veterinary advice.

A spokesperson for Bedford Borough Council said: “There is currently a bloom of blue-green algae on the main lake at Priory Country Park.

“We have set procedures for dealing with this and have followed these. We have informed the Environmental Agency and put warning notices up in the area to advise park users to stay out of the water and not to let their dogs into the water.

“Blue-green algae has the potential to become toxic as it starts to break down and can cause illness if large quantities of the algae are ingested.

“Our recommendation to users of Priory Country Park is to follow the advice on these notices and keep their dogs out of the water during periods when blue-green algae is present.”

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