PEOPLE are being urged to avoid all physical contact with the water in Camperdown's Lake Bullen Merri after an outbreak of highly toxic algae.
Samples of the lake's water taken yesterday and tested at a laboratory have shown high levels of the toxin-producing nodularia spumigena, a blue green algae that can cause permanent liver damage.
Corangamite Shire has warned that the algae can also cause a range of other health effects such as asthma-like symptoms and irritation of the skin, eyes, ears and nose.
Shire staff have installed warning signs around the lake and council is now advising people to avoid physical contact with the water, including drinking, swimming, fishing, boating, jet-skiing and the consumption of fish caught in the lake.
"Pets and stock should also be prevented from drinking or coming into contact with the water," the shire has warned.
The shire carries out regular visual inspections of the lake water during the year, increasing their frequency during warmer weather conditions when there is an increased likelihood of algal outbreaks.
Yesterday's sampling, in near 40-degree conditions, was the first conducted this season.
"It is not possible to predict when blue green algae concentrations will return to safe levels, however council will continue to monitor the bloom and will notify the community when the lake is again safe for use."