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Blue-green algae found in local waters being tested for toxicity

Posted at 11:03 PM, Aug 14, 2019
and last updated 2019-08-15 00:07:43-04

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — Just recently, toxic blue-green algae killed a dog swimming in the Guadalupe River near Austin.
Other similar cases of dog deaths have recently happened in North Carolina and Georgia too.
These toxic algae can also be very harmful to humans, especially small children.
Here at home, workers with the Nueces County River Authority found a type of blue-green algae in Live Oak County, North of George West.
Is it toxic also?
That is the question that has been on the minds of many people.
Earlier this evening we spoke to Dr. Paul Zimba with Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi.
He was able to identify the type of bacteria that was found in that sample from Live Oak County, Dr. Zimba says it's too soon to tell if this sample is potentially toxic.
That's why several tests are being analyzed thoroughly to make sure a toxic substance is not a part of our waters.
However, the Nueces County River Authority found something unique in Live Oak County, so they turned to toxin experts with TAMUCC for some answers.
“An important thing to realize is that there are about 750 compounds that are produced by a sign of bacteria that can be toxic,” says Dr. Paul Zimba.
Dr. Zimba with the Center for Coastal Studies was able to take a closer look and identify the particular sample.
He says this is a cyanobacteria called Phormidium and some of the species can be potentially toxic.
“There are a lot of different communities of algae that are non-toxic there are some toxic forms that can cause problems,” says Dr. Zimba.
So where does this come from?
Dr. Zimba says with the current conditions of the hot temperatures and low water flow, that can bring out the signs of bacteria and some of those species can be very harmful to humans, and deadly for pets.
Many people across the South have already experienced that scary situation.
“The smart move is that if you see a very dense blue-green community of floating mat that is on the surface then I would not want to send my animals or my family into those systems,” says Dr. Paul Zimba.
Currently, there have not been any reports of pets coming in contact with these blue-green algae.
Toxic screening experts hope to have their data completed by the morning of August 15th, 2019