Toxic has shown up in more than 40 country ponds and waterways from Los Angeles to the northern reaches of , the highest counting in state history.

Water agencies have been caught off guard by the growing magnitude of the algae, which is triggering health warnings, the closing of swim the regions and a reduction in park visitors and revenues, the East Bay Times reported Sunday.

“The algae caught everyone by surprise, and it was difficult to get clear guidance and protocols on what to do about it, ” said Carolyn Jones, an East Bay Regional Park District spokeswoman. “We ran more than 80 years before we had a closure for this toxic substance in the .”

The cyanobacterium, which occurs naturally, can cause gastrointestinal problems and allergic reactions in people and sickness and death among pets and wildlife. The cyanobacterium has blossomed during the course of its state’s drought.

The microbes are causing more difficulty because nutrients that built up during the course of its drought were washed off mounds during this year’s rains.

Reporting of algae buds has been spotty and inconsistent among the many different lake operators and owners. But there are many signs the algae become worse in California, told Beverley Anderson-Abbs, an ecological scientist with the country Water Resource Control Board.

Among the waterways affected are Del Valle Reservoir near Livermore, Pyramid Lake near Los Angeles and Lake Elsinore in San Bernardino County, which have closed at times. San Jose shut its Cunningham Lake to boating and angling for the first time earlier this month, and Contra Costa County health officials posted warning signals this year in some water in Discovery Bay, a boater-oriented community.

Some lake administrators are testing herbicides to reduce algae buds, but experts say there is no quick solution.

“There is no silver bullet, ” Anderson-Abbs said. “Generally, the best thing to do is to stay out of the water until the bloom is over.”