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Wainscott Pond has toxic algal bloom, health officials say

Suffolk County health officials are advising residents to keep out of Wainscott Pond in Wainscott after tests confirmed an algal bloom that can be toxic to people and wildlife.

Suffolk’s Department of Health Services announced the presence of blue-green algae Monday, telling people to refrain from swimming or wading in the pond. The agency also advised that pets be kept away from the area.

Blue-green algae, known as cyanobacteria, can cause irritation of the skin, eyes, nose and throat. It can also inflame the respiratory track. Swallowing the algae can cause nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain and diarrhea. It can be deadly to pets and livestock, according to a Suffolk County fact sheet.

Health effects depend on exposure time, type of toxin and the concentration. People who come in contact with the algae should rinse off with clean water and get medical attention if symptoms appear. Pets should be washed with warm, soapy water.

The algae can look like green globs or white dots on the water’s surface and at times can look like spilled paint or pea soup. Its color can vary — green, blue-green, yellow, brown or red.

Previous cyanobacteria blooms in Wickapogue Pond in Southampton and Laurel Lake in Laurel have ended.

To report a suspected bloom at a Suffolk bathing beach, call 631-852-5760. To report one that is not at a county bathing beach, call the state Department of Environmental Conservation at 518-402-8179.

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