WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – Blue-green algae, or cyanobacteria, can kill cattle that have ingested it in less than 24 hours.

The bacteria lives in all bodies of water, but according to Will Boyer, an extension watershed specialist for K-State, it becomes problematic after it blooms.

“It’s actually when they die-off is when the toxins are released and they’re most problematic,” Boyer said.

Blue-green algae can sometimes be reddish or brownish, but Boyer says, “Very commonly it’s a blue-green color and looks a lot like somebody spilled paint in the water.”

Although Boyer says it is becoming more common, he says because it happens so fast, there is not a lot of treatment for it.

Farmers can help protect their herd by taking preventative measures.

“Getting out there and checking it regularly, and maybe checking it in the morning would be a good time to check it cause it’s stiller then, and they’re waking up and ready to try and get a little sunshine,” said Boyer.

Farmers can also provide other sources of clean water.

If a body of water has had blue-green algae before, Boyer says you should check it more often for cyanobacteria. Water can be tested by sending it to a lab.

To check the status of Kansas public lakes under investigation for harmful blue-green algal blooms, you can visit the Kansas Department of Health and Environment’s website.