COLUMBIA, Mo. - The Missouri Department of Natural Resources said Tuesday that it has received nearly a dozen reports of the presence of a type of bacteria deadly to dogs in state waters.
Blue-green algae, which is actually a type of bacteria, is found in water bodies across Missouri and can kill dogs. The Department of Natural Resources says it has already received 11 reports of the deadly cyanobacteria across Missouri — half the number reported last year.
The toxic substance has made headlines this summer after dog deaths in other states.
"This is something that's actually natural, we see it every year and these things have been around forever, typically we see them when its warmer and dry, but they can occur at any time of year." said Lynn Milberg, the water quality monitoring section chief for the Department of Natural Resources.
Dr. Leah Cohn, a professor of veterinarian medicine and surgery at the University of Missouri College of Veterinary Medicine, says once you recognize your pet has symptoms, it may be too late.
"There are two different types of toxins, one causes liver failure the other causes nervous system failure which can start within minutes," Cohn said. "Once the animal shows signs there's not very much that can be done regarding treatment, you would have to rapidly induce vomiting."
Officials said blue-green algae is not actually algae -- it's made up of bacteria. There are thousands of types of blue-green algae and few of them produce the toxins.
Officials said it's most likely to be found in stagnant bodies of water in the late summer and can be found in bird baths.
The cyanobacteria tend not to be in flowing water such as streams and thrive on excess nutrients in the water that come from runoff such as fertilizer, officials said.
Officials said if you can see algae on the water, don't let your pet swim in the water because of the risk associated with cyanobacteria.
Milberg said most algae won't contain toxins but the difference isn't apparent to the naked eye.
Cohn said "clinical signs are seizures, vomiting or diarrhea. If one becomes ill, take your other pet in. Only a small amount of toxins can be fatal but it's not contagious."
CORRECTION: This article has been changed to correct a source's title.