BIG BEAR — If you’re planning on visiting Big Bear Lake, avoid the water, the state warned Friday.

State and regional water quality boards both urged dog owners, fishers and everyone else to avoid direct water contact while visiting areas of Big Bear Lake due to a harmful algae bloom.

The areas affected by the bloom include North Shore Drive, extending about a half-mile west of the Big Bear Solar Observatory, and the west side of Stanfield Cutoff. Toxins produced by harmful algae blooms were detected in the water near the shore. These toxins can make people sick and kill animals.

The recommendation is for people and their dogs to stay out of the water and avoid contact with floating algal material and scum in the water or along the shore.

Do not eat fish caught near the impacted areas until further notice.

The advisory was based on the potential health risks posed by the organisms known as cyanobacteria or blue-green algae, and the level of toxins measured in water samples collected in mid-August.

In this instance, the algae appears in different shades of green and is found near the water surface or floating, sometimes resembling spilled paint.

As the bloom continues to grow, cyanobacteria may form thick mats or scum on the water surface and accumulate on the shore.

Cyanobacteria can produce several kinds of toxins. In humans, these toxins can cause gastrointestinal symptoms including nausea, vomiting and diarrhea, along with eye infection, earache, sore throat, blisters, muscle weakness and pain.

In dogs, cyanobacteria can cause vomiting, stumbling and falling, foaming at the mouth, diarrhea, convulsions, loss of energy and appetite, tremors and seizures.

Bloom conditions can change rapidly as the flow of surface water and wind may mix, move or concentrate the bloom into different areas of the lake. The conditions are being monitored by the Santa Ana regional board and its partners.

To learn how to stay safe around harmful algae blooms and to report a bloom, visit www.mywaterquality.ca.gov/habs.

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