The newly discovered algae toxin found in “astronomically high” concentrations in Owasco Lake is especially lethal to dogs, experts say.
Not only is homoanatoxin 100 times more lethal than toxins previously found in the Finger Lakes, it is produced by an algae that smells particularly attractive to dogs.
“It has an earthy, musty smell,” said James Metcalf, a senior researcher at the Brain Chemistry Labs in Jackson, Wyoming. “Dogs love that smell, and then they go and lap up the water and eat at the scum.”
Dogs also swallow more of the toxin when they come out of the water and lick their fur, said Metcalf, who studies blue-green algae toxins and their effects.
Dogs can die within an hour of being exposed to the toxin, some studies have reported. Homoanatoxin is a nerve toxin, so it can cause convulsions, tremors, rigid muscles and stumbling.