The Wayland Board of Health recently released a health advisory warning residents of harmful cyanobacteria blue green algae discovered at Lake Cochituate earlier this week.

WAYLAND — Visitors to Lake Cochituate are being advised to stay away from the water after harmful cyanobacteria (blue-green algae) was discovered last week, according to a health advisory issued by the town Board of Health.

The advisory was based on visual observations and photographs taken by state park officials that discovered cyanobacteria cells - toxins that pose health risks and, in some serious cases, illness or death - present at Lake Cochituate at levels that may exceed state Department of Health guidelines for recreational water bodies in the state, according to the advisory.

Residents and pets are advised to stay out of the lake's water and to limit recreational activities where there is a potential for contact with the water, according to the advisory, and signs are being posted at each lake access point to notify visitors.

On Thursday, the DPH will work with the Department of Conservation and Recreation to conduct follow-up sampling at the lake, provided the bloom is no longer visible, according to the advisory. Public health officials recommend at least two samples, one week apart, in order to recommend canceling the advisory.

Cyanobacteria multiplies quickly and can potentially make people sick, according to the Wayland Board of Health. It's visible by scums or mats that form at the surface, resembling pea soup or thick paint. The blooms are most common in Massachusetts during the summer and early fall, according to the state Bureau of Environmental Health.

Environmental impacts, such as warm weather and excess nutrients, promote blue-green algae growth, and sometime from nutrients derived from human-related sources like phosphorus and nitrogen in fertilizers or human and animal waste.


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Direct contact with these algae cause skin and eye irritation, while ingesting or inhaling small amounts of it will likely cause gastrointestinal symptoms, according to local health officials. In some cases, its presence has led to serious illnesses or in rare cases, death. Those who come into contact with affected water are advised to rinse off immediately.

DPH updates the listing of algae advisories on its website daily. Currently, the department is aware of 14 other advisories in the state, including one in Ashland and Hopkinton.


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Updates on conditions of the bloom will be posted on the Wayland Health Department’s website. Visit Mass.gov/dph/algae for more information.

 Lauren Young writes about immigration, politics and social issues. Reach her at 315-766-6912 or lyoung@wickedlocal.com. Follow her on Twitter @laurenatmilford.