Westfield Newsroom

EEE, blue green algae will be closely monitored next year

Joe Rouse, Westfield Director of Public Health

WESTFIELD- The Westfield Health Department has said that the cyanobacteria causing algae detected in some bodies of water in Westfield and Southampton could go away soon as the colder weather moves in, but that it could come back next year.

Public Health Director Joseph Rouse said that the blue-green algae that has been found in the Westfield Sportsman’s Club Pond and other bodies of water in the north side were present because the conditions were perfect for it. He noted that factors such as the temperature of the air and water as well as the nutrients in the water allowed for the algae to bloom heavily. 

The algae is blamed nationally for the deaths of several pets and for illnesses in some humans. 

Rouse said that he thinks part of the reason for this year’s heavy bloom could have been from nearby residents and businesses using fertilizer that infiltrated the water. 

Although the algae was not detected until later into the summer, he said that it is possible it could return next spring. Should that be the case, the Massachusetts Division of Toxicology would weigh in on the city’s options to mitigate it. 

For the current outbreak, Rouse said that they have installed warning signs in the vicinity of the affected bodies of water. During the Board of Health meeting Thursday evening, board members said that the signs keep being stolen. The signs advised people to not swim in the affected water, not to swallow the water, to keep any animals or pets away from it, and to rinse it off quickly after exposure.

At the Board of Health meeting, it was noted that dogs are affected by the cyanobacteria more severely than humans, but that getting them to the vet quickly increases their chance of survival.

Rouse also noted that he does not believe Westfield will be affected by the mosquito borne eastern equine encephalitis (EEE) before the warm weather is gone. Should the recent epidemic continue next spring, Rouse said that state officials may start monitoring the situation closer, including communities that have not yet detected the disease. This would take the form of mosquito control districts, which have been implemented in 10 municipalities across the state so far.

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