The word “green” conjurs images of green fields, being eco-friendly and recycling. There is also green with envy, green slime, the greenhouse effect and yes, even “Soylent Green.”

But this green, the blue-green algae popping up in Big Bear Lake, is just plain mean.

“We’ve seen some (in Big Bear Lake),” said Mike Stephenson, general manager of the Big Bear Municipal Water District, the agency that manages recreation and safety on the lake. “There’s always a little around the dam.”

Microcystis, or toxic blue-green algae, has bloomed everywhere this summer. In the past few weeks there have been numerous reports of algae blooms in lakes around the country, from Florida, Michigan, Ohio, Minnesota and California, just to name a few. So, what is microcystis and why should we care?

According to the Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment, microcystis releases a toxin into the water when its cells die. Ingestion of water or algae containing microcystin can create health problems for fish, dogs, cats, livestock and people.

Liver and neurological problems are what concerns the veterenarians at VCA Animal Hospital in Big Bear Lake. But symptoms are similar to other ailments, said Craig Lassen, manager of VCA Animal Hospital. “If you connect your dog’s symptoms to being in the lake, then you need to bring your dog in,” Lassen said. “So far we have not seen any cases. Our general policy is, if you see water that has that pea-green look, stay out of the water.”

There have been no cases reported at Big Bear City Animal Hospital either, according to receptionist Ashley Coleman. “If dogs are going down to the lake, don’t let them drink the water. And if they get in the water, wash the dogs off immediately after. Don’t let them lick themselves.”

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