PITTSFIELD, Mass. (NEWS10) — A Saturday public health advisory has confirmed the presence of a blue-green algae bloom at Pontoosuc Lake. This type of algae may cause harmful health effects for those who come in contact with it, prompting Pittsfield officials to warn people away from the lake.

On September 10, algae test results confirmed the bloom, so the Massachusetts Department of Public Health says:

  • Do not swim
  • Do not swallow water
  • Keep animals away
  • Rise off after contact with water

Under ordinary circumstances, blue-green algae or cyanobacteria occurs naturally and doesn’t appear to cause significant harm. But the conditions of warmer, nutrient-dense water causes a population explosion. This response is commonly called a “bloom” because algal biomass increases to the extent that normally clear water becomes cloudy.

The bloom—from skin contact with the algae-tainted water, swallowing the water, and inhaling airborne droplets—can pose a health risk in this type of body of water. Pets can also suffer harmful effects by simply licking their damp fur after leaving the water. Problems can include:

  • Irritations of the skin, eyes, or ears
  • GI problems like vomiting and diarrhea
  • Muscle cramps
  • In extreme cases, nerve or liver problems

Warning signs have been posted around the lake. Avoid activities like:

  • Fish consumption
  • Canoeing
  • Rowing
  • Sailing
  • Kayaking
  • Paddle Boarding
  • Motor Boating
  • Water Sports of any kind
  • Any contact with the water

Thoroughly rinse off with clean water if you come in contact. If you experience any negative symptoms of blue-green algae exposure contact your doctor or poison control at (800) 222-1222. If your pet is affected, contact the veterinarian immediately.

Officials said that the community will be notified whenever the bloom dissipates.