Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water this summer, health officials are advising people to stay out of three lakes connected to popular beaches in King County.

Health officials are recommending people and pets steer clear of the waters at Enatai and Houghton Beaches, as well as Andrews Bay Beach at Seward Park in Seattle.

The warnings were prompted by the detection of high levels of bacteria in the waters at each beach. The bacteria is created by blooms of toxic algae that form in the waters.

Health officials consistently monitor algae blooms and bacterial levels at beaches along Lake Washington, Lake Sammamish, and Green Lake throughout the spring and summer months and post warnings for recreationists when levels get too high.

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Experts say contact with or immersion in waters that have high levels of bacteria due to algae blooms can cause people and pets to become ill with symptoms that include diarrhea, vomiting, nausea, headaches, and fever. Health officials also say it's possible to get infections of the eyes, ears, nose, throat, and skin from waters with high levels of bacteria.

The toxic algae blooms can be caused by several factors, including fecal matter from humans and pets, as well as wildlife, stagnant water levels, and persistent warm weather.

Lakes on the state's Westside are typically more impacted by such blooms since they are generally busier and more susceptible to the conditions that can create them.

Few lakes in the eastern half of Washington experience toxic algae blooms that cause bacterial levels to be elevated enough for warnings or closures. However, Moses Lake has been impacted by numerous blooms in recent years, along with a few other lakes in the Columbia Basin area.

One health official with King County says, "if the water looks 'poopy' or has a green, orange or red film on top, you should stay out of the water".

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