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If you or another person is displaying symptoms from exposure to Cyanobacteria toxins, call 911 and seek medical attention immediately. Inform medical personal that the individual may be suffering from exposure to Cyanobacteria toxins.

If your pets or livestock are displaying symptoms from exposure to Cyanobacteria toxins, contact your veterinarian immediately. Inform the veterinarian that your animal was in contact with water experiencing an algal bloom. If you would like more information about cyanobacteria poisoning of livestock, please email ( or call (515-294-1950) Steve Ensley from the College of Veterinary Medicine at Iowa State University.

People can display various symptoms of toxin poisoning depending on exposure levels and exposure route. Contact with contaminated water can produce rashes, hives, or skin blisters, especially on the lips and under swimsuits, or cause allergic reactions with runny eyes and nose, cough, and sore throat. Ingestion of contaminated water can cause stomach pains, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and fever. Ingestion of water containing high concentrations of toxins can cause liver damage.

Pets and livestock can display various symptoms depending on the toxin type. Liver toxins, such as microcystin, can cause weakness, reluctance to move, anorexia, vomiting, diarrhea, pale mucous membranes, confusion or extreme behavioral changes, acute liver failure, and death. Nerve toxins, such as anatoxin-a, can produce muscle tremors, rigidity, reluctance to move, respiratory distress, convulsions, and death. A certain variety of anatoxin-a, anatoxin-a(s), can produce salivation, urination, defecation, secretion of tears, tremors, shortness of breath, convulsions, and death.

Source: Iowa Department of Public Health 2012; Ohio Environmental Protection Agency 2012.