In April and May 2011, three dogs died and one dog became ill after swimming in Lake IJmeer (The Netherlands). At the time, the lake was infested with the benthic cyanobacterial species Phormidium. A Eurasian Coot (Fulica atra) and a Black-headed Gull (Chroicocephalus ridibundus) also died near Lake IJmeer in the same period. One of the dogs and both birds were subjected to a pathological investigation. Furthermore, the Phormidium mat; algal samples from the dikes; contents of the animals’ digestive systems and organ tissues were analysed for the following cyanobacterial toxins: (homo)anatoxin-a; (7-deoxy-)cylindrospermopsin; saxitoxins; and gonyautoxins by LC-MS/MS. Samples were also analysed for the nontoxic (homo)anatoxin-a metabolites dihydro(homo)anatoxin-a and epoxy(homo)anatoxin-a. The dog necropsy results indicated neurotoxicosis and its stomach contained Phormidium filaments. Anatoxin-a was detected in the Phormidium mat (272 μg g−1 dry weight, stdev 65, n = 3) and in the dog’s stomach contents (9.5 μg g−1 dry weight, stdev 2.4, n = 3). Both samples also contained the anatoxin-a metabolite dihydroanatoxin-a, and a trace of homoanatoxin-a was detected in the Phormidium mat. The birds were in bad nutritive condition at the time of necropsy and their stomachs and intestines did not contain any cyanobacterial material. Furthermore, no cyanobacterial toxins were detected in their stomachs, intestines and organs and they both had lesions that are not associated with cyanobacterial intoxication. This is the first report of anatoxin-a and homoanatoxin-a occurrence in The Netherlands, that are likely behind the deaths of three dogs. The birds probably died of other causes. Dutch recreational waters are at this moment only screened for pelagic cyanobacterial species, the current bathing water protocol therefore does not protect humans and animals from negative effects of blooms of benthic cyanobacteria.
Original languageEnglish
Journal publication date2012

ID: 139521