ISU Researchers Develop Test to Detect Toxic Blue-Green Algae in Livestock Water Sources

August 9, 2016

Contacts:

Dr. Steve Ensley, Veterinary Diagnostic and Production Animal Medicine (515) 294-2783
Dr. Kyoung-Jin Yoon, Veterinary Diagnostic and Production Animal Medicine (515) 294-1083
Dave Gieseke, Veterinary Communications (515) 294-4257

ISU Researchers Develop Test to Detect Toxic Blue-Green Algae in Livestock Water Sources

Ames, Iowa – Research conducted by Iowa State University College of Veterinary Medicine faculty members Drs. Steve Ensley and Kyoung-Jin Yoon has produced a faster and more accurate method for rapid and specific detection of toxic algae that grows in livestock water sources in Iowa.

Several species of blue-green algae found in Iowa and the Midwest can produce toxins that cause adverse health concerns in animals as well as humans. These algae are bacteria and can produce poisonous neurotoxins and hepatoxins, a potential health concern to livestock, pets, wildlife and humans.

The PCR-based method developed at Iowa State by Ensley and Yoon detects the toxigenic Microcystis spp. and will allow for a rapid determination of the presence of toxigenic Microcystis in any water source. Detection of the toxins will allow for prevention and management of adverse health effects in animals that consume water contaminated with blue-green algae.

Animal owners can submit samples for analysis to the diagnostic laboratory through their veterinarians. In addition to quick analysis and results, the new method is also cost-effective for producers. Previously farmers would monitor the development of cyanobacteria blooms in lake and pond water for the presence of toxigenic species, a time-consuming and largely inaccurate method.

The new test is available now and producers can contact their veterinarian for details on sampling and proper testing procedures.

A grant from the Iowa Pork Industry Center provided funding in part for the development of the new diagnostic test.
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