What are Cyanobacterial Toxins?

Cyanobacteria is also known as blue-green algae, occurs worldwide mainly in nutrient-rich, calm waters. A few of the cyanobacteria species produce toxins,

cyanobacterial toxins

, which adversely affect humans and animals. People are exposed to these by either bathing or drinking contaminated water. The serious health complications are caused by ingesting these toxins during recreational water activity, or drinking water contaminated with cyanobacterial toxins. Read on to explore more about cyanobacterial toxins.

Cyanobacterial Toxins a�� Symptoms of the Disease

Disease due to these toxins may vary depending on the type of water exposure (skin contact, drinking, etc.) and the type of toxin. The symptoms seen in human affected with these toxins include:

  • Liver damage
  • Blisters in the mouth
  • Joint and muscle pain
  • Headache
  • Sore throat
  • Fever
  • Diarrhea
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Stomach cramps
  • Skin irritation

Swimmers exposed to these toxins may suffer from certain allergic reactions which include:

  • Blister formation around the nose and mouth
  • Rashes
  • Eye irritation
  • Asthma

Cause of Cyanobacterial Toxins

Cyanobacteria is called blue-green algae because it exhibits both characteristics of bacteria and algae, however, they are classified as bacteria now. The color blue-green is due to their photosynthesis ability, similar to plants. The toxins are classified according to their affect on the humans. These include:

  • Hepatotoxins (affecting the liver)

    a�� Responsible strains are Umezakia, Cylindroapermopsis, Nostoc, Nodularia, Oscillatoria, Anabaena and Microcystis.

  • Neurotoxins (affecting the brain and nervous system)

    a�� Responsible strains are Oscilatoria and Aphanizomenon.

Other sources of acquiring the disease apart from bathing and drinking water contaminated with cyanobacterial toxins include algal food tablets. A few species may form a scum on the surface of the water. This has a very high toxin contact which is a potential hazard to human health.

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