Friday, July 30, 2021 - A public health advisory has been issued for Jamaica Pond due to a suspected bloom of blue-green algae, also known as cyanobacteria. Based on initial visual inspection of the pond, it appears likely that Jamaica Pond is experiencing a harmful algae bloom. These blooms may produce toxins that can make people and pets sick. Park visitors are urged to avoid contact with the water and any areas of algae concentration, even on shore.
Jamaica Pond is temporarily closed to water activities. During the closure, park visitors cannot:
Swim, fish, boat or engage in other recreational activities on or in the water
Allow dogs to swim in or drink the water
In the event that you, your child, or your dog comes in contact with the water or an algae bloom, rinse off immediately.
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. The current suspected bloom in Jamaica Pond appears like a dull green discoloration. Blue-green algae blooms can produce toxins that may make people and pets sick. Toxins may be present within the algae cells or in the water.
For humans, the primary concern is ingestion of water containing blue-green algae while swimming. Of secondary concern is 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 may cause skin and eye irritation, and inhalation can cause respiratory irritation and exacerbate pre-existing respiratory conditions. Toxins are not absorbed through the skin. Ingestion of blue-green algae can cause acute gastrointestinal symptoms, such as vomiting and diarrhea. If the blue-green algae are producing toxin(s), the health effects can be more serious, especially for small pets due to their smaller body weights. Ingestion of the toxins can cause acute gastrointestinal distress and, depending on the specific toxin, can affect the functioning of the liver, kidneys, and/or neurological systems and in severe cases can result in death.
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. Dogs have been known to eat the scum that washes ashore and/or lick scum out of their fur. In Massachusetts and in many other states, canine deaths have been documented due to the ingestion of harmful algae.
When will this advisory be lifted?
Algae blooms may last for weeks in the summer or may disappear quite quickly. On Friday, July 30th, staff from Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH) and Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) took water samples from Jamaica Pond for analysis. The Boston Public Health Commission (BPHC) will review state sampling results for the presence of a visible algae bloom in Jamaica Pond over the coming weeks. Water sampling will 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 not be lifted until two consecutive weekly samples show algal cell counts below the safe limit of 70,000 cells/milliliter of water.
For more information, call BPHC at 617-343-6976.