Seven dogs fall ill, one dies, possibly due to algae exposure near Lake O

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Seven dogs have fallen "seriously ill" due to suspected exposure to toxic algae, according to the Martin County Sheriff's Office Animal Service Unit. 

One of the dogs has died, MCSO said.

The dogs were said to be from various areas of the county, which is on the northwest border of Lake Okeechobee. MCSO said all of the animals do have some connection to the water where the toxic algae bloom has occurred.

Symptoms common in the seven dogs include severe vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, and respiratory distress.

Local veterinarians were working with animal services to determine the exact cause of the illnesses. They are testing the dogs to see if there is a common bacteria present in the animals.

"Thousands of dollars have been spent in research and treatment for the dogs, most of which are still very sick," the Martin County Sheriff's Office said in a post on Facebook. "MCSO Animal Service supervisors have been working to see if there are any other factors that may be causing the illnesses that are criminal in [nature]. So far, no other common factors have been found."

It was unclear what factors are being considered criminal.

Pet owners in Martin County were asked to keep animals away from water sources that may contain the algae and to keep animals from eating grass.

Anyone with questions about symptoms or risks for pets should contact a veterinarian.

Anyone whose dog recently became seriously ill or passed away from an unknown cause, and would like the Martin County Sheriff’s Office to look into it, may contact Sergeant Pat Colasuonno at 220-7141.