Algal bloom on Hurunui River at SH1

Thursday January 12, 2017

The Community and Public Health division of the Canterbury District Health Board have issued a health warning for the Hurunui River at State Highway 1.

The warning follows the finding of high levels of the potentially toxic benthic cyanobacteria Phormidium in the Hurunui River.

People and animals, particularly dogs, should avoid the area of the Hurunui River until the health warning has been lifted. Phormidium mats have been found in the river and some of these mats are detaching and accumulating at the sides of the river downstream of the SH1 bridge.

Canterbury Medical Officer of Health Dr Alistair Humphrey, says the cyanobacteria (algae) look like dark brown to black mats and can produce toxins harmful to people and animals.

"Exposure may cause skin rashes, nausea, stomach cramps, tingling and numbness around the mouth and fingertips," Dr Humphrey says.

"If you experience any of these symptoms, visit your doctor immediately, also let your doctor know if you've had contact with dark brown/black algal mats or water in this area."

No one should drink water from the river at any time.

Pets that show signs of illness after coming into contact with cyanobacteria (algal) mats should be taken to a vet immediately.

Dr Humphrey says people and animals should remain out of the waterways until the warnings have been lifted.

Environment Canterbury is monitoring the site and the public will be advised of any changes in water quality.

Page last reviewed: 12 January 2017
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