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Algae bloom prompts water warning at Lake Elsinore

A massive algae bloom in Lake Elsinore has led to Riverside County officials calling for swimmers and fishermen to avoid the water until further notice.

Tests in portions of the lake found harmful algal blooms (HABs) that can be dangerous for humans and animals.

The California State Water Resources Control Board and Santa Ana Regional Water Quality Control Board are urging people to avoid going into the water or eating any shellfish caught from the lake.

Signs are posted at the lake with an advisory that lists the following guidance:

  • No swimming
  • Do not let pets and other animals go into or drink the water, and pets should be prevented from eating the scum on shore.
  • Stay away from scum, and cloudy or discolored water.
  • Do not eat shellfish from this water.
  • Do not use this water for drinking or cooking. Boiling or filtering will not make the water safe.
  • For fish caught here, throw away guts and clean fillets with tap water or bottled water before cooking.

These algal blooms can produce toxins that can cause skin inflammation, gastrointestinal distress, headaches, agitation, weakness or abnormal breathing, health officials said.

Dogs and children are considered to be the most high-risk to these dangerous health conditions.

If you or anyone you are with is exposed to this toxic algae, you are urged to immediately wash and rinse off the lake water and monitor for symptoms. If you suspect that you, your loved ones, a family pet or livestock are experiencing symptoms related to the toxic algae exposure, you are urged to contact a health care professional, as well as the Riverside County Public Health Department.

County officials say that the algal conditions can change rapidly due to wind and waves, and the public will be notified of any changes at the lake. In the meantime, keep an eye out for a layer of scum atop the water’s surface and any changes to the appearance of the water colors.

If you suspect that there’s a harmful algal bloom in a body of water near you, you can fill out a report online.

The two water control boards recommend that people practice healthy water habits while enjoying time at local lakes, rivers or streams.

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