BELCHERTOWN, MA (WGGB/WSHM) -- Blue-green algae in Massachusetts is raising red flags for residents and their pets.
Multiple bodies of water across the state have tested positive for the bacteria and have shut down to keep communities safe.
The Massachusetts Department of Public Health has issued a warning about toxic blue-green algae that could potentially kill your pets and be harmful to you.
Erica Cross, Belchertown's conservation administrator, explained the type of algae that people should be most concerned with.
"The blue-green algae bloom, which people are mostly concerned about. There is cyanobacteria that explodes and that may produce toxins under certain circumstance," Cross said.
The warning comes days after a North Carolina woman reported that three of her dogs passed away after swimming in a lake that had the toxic algae.
Since Wednesday, five cases of the blue-green algae have been confirmed in Massachusetts.
"When you have skin contact with this kind of toxin, you can have skin irritation and if you inhale it, you can have irritation in your lungs and airways. If you ingest, you can develop general toxicity through your body having nausea and vomiting," Cross said.
Late Thursday afternoon, Easthampton's health department said that pictures provided to the state indicate that cyanobacteria cells at Nashawannuck Pond are at levels that might exceed state guidelines for recreational bodies of water.
"Accordingly, MDPH recommends that a public advisory be issued and a sign be posted at each access point to the Pond to notify residents and visitors that they should avoid contact with the water," the Easthampton Health Department said in a statement.
The reaction in animals can be fatal.
Dan Peters of Chicopee resident is only one person in western Massachusetts with concerns about the algae.
"I'd stay away from the water now because it's around now you know," Peters noted.
However, where do this deadly bacteria come from? Cross told Western Mass News multiple factors cause this bacteria to form in bodies of water. They include the increase in water temperature during the summer months and an excess of nutrients which can come from storm water, runoff from the roadways, fertilizers, and septic systems that aren't being maintained.
"These excess amounts of nitrogen and phosphorus give too many nutrients to the algae and the explode in growth," Cross explained.
Keep an eye out for large amounts of dead fish, waterfowl or other animals in or around the water because animals might be attracted to the smell.
"If you do come across larger masses of bright green algae, you might want to report that to your local Board of Health," Cross noted.
If you think you or your pet may have gone into a body of water with blue-green algae health professionals say you should wash immediately with soap and water.
As for Nashawannuck Pond, city officials said that once the algae is clear, two water samples will be taken and the advisory will be lifted once at least two samples come back in the acceptable range.