A warning to dog owners has been released to not let their pets swim in a Cheshire lake after birds have fallen ill.
According to the RSPCA Crewe, Nantwich and District branch there is currently an issue at Shakerley Mere in Northwich which is ‘killing the water birds’.
The animal charity urged dog owners to not let them enter or drink the water if they are visiting the country park.
The cause of what is harming the birds is not yet known, but the RSPCA said it could possibly be Botulism or blue-green algae.
Botulism is a very rare but life-threatening condition caused by toxins produced by Clostridium botulinum bacteria.
These toxins are some of the most powerful known to science. They attack the nervous system (nerves, brain and spinal cord) and cause paralysis (muscle weakness).
Most people will make a full recovery with treatment, but the paralysis can spread to the muscles that control breathing if it isn’t treated quickly. This is fatal in around five to 10 per cent of cases.
Botulism can also cause paralysis in dogs.
Blooms of blue-green algae can produce harmful toxins which stop a dog’s liver from functioning properly.
Exposure to toxic blue-green algae is often fatal and can also cause long-term health problems in dogs that survive after drinking or swimming in algae-contaminated water.
Some types of blue-green algae can kill a dog just 15 minutes to an hour after drinking contaminated water.
Dogs who have been swimming in water can get the algae caught in their fur, and can ingest it while cleaning themselves later on.
Five ‘very poorly’ geese have been rescued from the lake in the last three nights and members of the national RSPCA water rescue team will be attending today searching for other sick birds.
The RSPCA added that the Environment Agency will ‘hopefully’ also be attending to test the water.
A spokesperson for RSPCA Crewe, Nantwich and District branch said: “WARNING: If visiting Shakerley Mere in Northwich, Cheshire. Please don’t let your dog enter or drink the water.
“There’s currently an issue which is killing the water birds.
“Five very poorly geese have been rescued there over the last three evenings.
“Possibly Botulism but could be blue-green algae. Members of the national RSPCA water rescue team will be attending today searching for other sick birds.
“Hopefully, the Environment Agency will be attending to test the water Please be careful and keep eye out for sick birds. If seen, don’t touch, but call 0300 1234 999.”