Toxic algae alert: Officials urge public to avoid water at San Luis Reservoir

Officials are urging the public Tuesday to stay out of the water at the San Luis Reservoir in Merced County until further notice, due to dangerous levels of blue-green algae bloom.

Boating is still allowed, but swimming and other water activities are not considered safe, according to the Department of Water Resources. O’Neill Forebay is free from algae bloom advisories, but warning signs are posted at the Basalt Boat Launch and Dinosaur Point Boat Launch.

The algae – which also comes in the colors white and brown – can accumulate into clumps and form foam at the water’s surface, the Department of Water Resources said in a press release. Touching the algae-infested water can cause eye irritation, allergic skin rash, mouth ulcers, vomiting, diarrhea and cold- and flu-like symptoms.

Pets are “especially susceptible,” according to the Department of Water Resources, because they typically lick their fur after drinking water. In the summer of 2017, a toxic algae bloom in a Napa County pond killed two dogs, The Bee previously reported.

In addition to ensuring their pets do not drink the water, officials suggest the public avoid eating fish and cooking with water from the area. Common water purification techniques will not remove the toxins.

If someone believes they have been poisoned by the algae, they should seek medical treatment immediately, the Department of Water Resources said.

Related stories from San Luis Obispo Tribune