State and regional water managers are urging people to stay out of Lake Elsinore and Big Bear Lake due to dangerous algal blooms.

Elevated levels of algae were detected by both lab results and visual observations, according to the State Water Resources Control Board and Santa Ana Regional Water Quality Control Board.

“WARNING” signs have been posted at both lakes urging fishermen and recreational users to stay out of the water, and to avoid 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 lakes. 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.