Montgomery County park officials urging pet owners to keep dogs out of two lakes after toxic algae reported

(Photo by Nicolas Armer/picture alliance via Getty Images)

Montgomery Parks officials are warning pet owners – especially dog owners – to keep their pooches away from two Montgomery County lakes after toxic algae was reported there. 

Officials say staff found visible signs of microcystin-producing blue-green algae on the surface of Lake Needwood, which is located within Rock Creek Regional Park. They are also urging pet owners to avoid the nearby Lake Frank. 

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"Microcystin is a toxic substance produced by some species of blue-green algae (cyanobacteria)," according to officials. "Microcystin, a hepatotoxin, can cause harm to the liver of humans and pets if ingested in high concentrations."

Samples of the algae have been sent to the Maryland Department of the Environment and they are expected to be returned sometime this week. 

Officials say they are most concerns about off-leash dogs who may swim in the lakes and drink the water. 

Montgomery Parks urges visitors to take the following precautions: 

• Avoid direct contact with water while boating or fishing

• Swimming is prohibited in lakes at all times

• Keep dogs on leash (as is regularly required at the park), and do not allow them to drink or be in contact with the water

• Wash hands thoroughly prior to eating, drinking, or smoking if someone comes in contact with the water

• Only eat properly cooked muscle meat of fish that are caught in the lake