Jamaica Pond Closed Due To Algae Bloom; Can Be Deadly To Dogs

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The Boston Public Health Commission (BPHC) has closed Jamaica Pond due to a suspected bloom of blue-green algae, which can be very harmful and even cause death to dogs.

Located on the shore of Jamaica Pond, Courageous Sailing was closed due to the water's toxicity, but will reopen for public rentals on Saturday.

During the closing, swimming, boating, fishing, or engaging in other recreational activities on or in the water are not allowed. Dogs are also not allowed to swim in or drink the water.

Health officials noted the algae bloom, also known as cyanobacteria, through a visual inspection of the pond. Algae blooms such as this may produce toxins that can make people and pets sick. People are being advised to avoid contact with the water and any areas of algae concentration, even on shore.

If you, your child, or your dog comes in contact with the water or an algae bloom, rinse off immediately, said public health officials.

Algae blooms may last for weeks in the summer or may disappear quite quickly. Staff from Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH) and Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) took water samples from Jamaica Pond for analysis on July 30. The BPHC will review state sampling results for the presence of a visible algae bloom in Jamaica Pond during the coming weeks. Water samples will be gathered occur at least weekly while the algae bloom persists, and for several weeks after it is no longer visible. DPH recommends that the recreational water advisory should not be lifted until two consecutive weekly samples show algal cell counts below the safe limit of 70,000 cells/milliliter of water.

Blue-green algae can form harmful blooms in lakes, ponds, and rivers that make the water murky, and can sometimes make the water look like pea soup or paint, said a press release. The current suspected bloom in Jamaica Pond appears like a dull green discoloration.

For humans, the primary concern is ingestion of water containing blue-green algae while swimming, albeit swimming is not allowed at Jamaica Pond. There is also a concern of direct skin contact with the blue-green algae, and inhalation of water droplets containing blue-green algae or toxins. For dogs, the primary concern is the ingestion of water containing blue-green algae or scum that has washed ashore or gotten onto their skin or fur.

Contact with the blooms may irritate the skin and eyes, inhalation can cause respiratory irritation, and worsen pre-existing respiratory conditions. Ingestion of blue-green algae can cause intestinal issues such as vomiting and diarrhea. Small pets due to their smaller body weights can be greatly affected, including intestinal, liver, kidney, neurological issues, and sometimes can result in death.

Please call your veterinarian immediately if your dog has been around an algae bloom and shows symptoms such as vomiting, staggering, drooling, or convulsions. These symptoms present themselves fairly quickly after exposure, said BPHC officials. Dogs are known to eat the scum that washes ashore or lick scum out of their fur.