The Community and Public Health division of Canterbury
District Health Board has issued a health warning after high levels of faecal
bacteria were found in consecutive samples taken from Okains Bay estuary.
Canterbury Medical Officer of Health Dr Ramon Pink says
rainfall in the area in the last few days has most likely caused the high levels
of faecal bacteria.
A number of other popular swimming sites in Canterbury may
also have high levels of contamination after recent rainfall.
“There remains a significant risk of rivers and estuaries
around Christchurch and Kaiapoi being contaminated for up to 48-hours after any
rainfall because of infrastructure damage from the September 4, 2010 earthquake
and subsequent aftershocks,” Dr Pink says.
“Water quality at affected sites is not considered suitable
for recreational uses including swimming because of the risk to health from the
bacteria and other pathogens. Eating fish or shellfish from these sites should
also be avoided.”
Water contaminated by human or animal faecal matter may
contain a range of disease causing micro-organisms such as viruses, bacteria and
“In most cases the ill-health effects from exposure to
contaminated water are minor and short-lived. However, there is the potential
for more serious diseases, such as hepatitis A, giardia, cryptosporosis,
campylobacter and salmonella,” Dr Pink says.
The sites where water quality is affected are listed on
Environment Canterbury’s website, he says.
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