Toxic blue-green algae may have begun to bloom in Cumberland.
A sign warns people about a toxic blue-green algae bloom in Hinckley Park in South Portland in this file photo. Credit: CBS 13

Toxic blue-green algae may have formed at the Twin Brook Recreational Facility in Cumberland, town officials said.

Blue-green algae is a type of photosynthesizing bacteria called cyanobacteria. It exists in all Maine lakes but is harmless in low concentrations.

However, when the population of this bacteria explodes during an algal bloom it can sometimes produce toxins that, when ingested, can kill dogs, according to Scott Williams, executive director of the Lake Stewards of Maine. It also can harm humans, causing nausea and skin rashes.

The town of Cumberland said it is working with the Maine Department of Environmental Protection to test the water this week.

“While we do not have confirmation of this algae currently, prevention is key to keeping everyone safe,” town officials said in a news release.

Officials are urging people to keep their pets as well as themselves away from the water in all town parks.

“At this time, we would encourage extreme caution,” town officials said in a news release.