Visitors to the San Luis Reservoir in Merced County are being warned to avoid contact with the water after authorities found the presence of a toxic algae.
The Department of Water Resources announced Tuesday that blue-green algae — cyanobacteria — was found in the water. Cyanobacteria can cause eye irritation, allergic skin rash, mouth ulcers, vomiting, diarrhea, and cold- and flu-like symptoms. Pets can be especially susceptible because they tend to drink while in the water and lick their fur afterwards. Keep pets away from the water.
Boating is allowed, but swimming and other water-contact recreation and sporting activities are not considered safe due to potential adverse health effects.
Bloom conditions can change rapidly, and wind and waves may move or concentrate the bloom into different regions of the reservoir. The algal bloom can accumulate into mats, scum, or form foam at the surface and along the shoreline, and range in color from blue, green, white, or brown.
State guidelines on cyanobacteria and harmful algal blooms recommend the following precautions be taken in waters impacted by blue-green algae:
Do not let pets and livestock drink the water, swim through algal blooms, scum, or mats, or lick their fur after going in the water. Rinse pets in clean water to remove algae from fur.
Avoid wading, swimming, or jet or water skiing in water containing algae blooms, scum, or mats.
Do not drink, cook, or wash dishes with untreated surface water from these areas under any circumstances. Common water purification techniques such as camping filters, tablets, and boiling do not remove toxins.
Do not eat shellfish from this water. For fish caught here, throw away guts and clean fillets with tap water or bottled water before cooking.
Get medical treatment immediately if you think that you, a family member, friend, pet, or livestock might have been poisoned by blue-green algae toxins. Be sure to alert medical professionals to the possible contact with blue-green algae. Also, make sure to contact the local county public health department.