The Community and Public Health division of the Canterbury District Health Board have issued a health warning after potentially toxic blue-green algae (benthic cyanobacteria) were found in the Hurunui River at State Highway 1.
People and animals, particularly dogs, should avoid the water in the Hurunui River at SH1 until the health warning has been lifted.
Dr Alistair Humphrey, Canterbury Medical Officer of Health, says the cyanobacteria 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."
Boiling the water from the river does not remove the toxin and therefore should not be consumed, Dr Alistair Humphrey says.
Animals that show signs of illness after coming into contact with algal mats should be taken to a vet immediately. People should remain out of the waterways until the warnings have been lifted.
Environment Canterbury is monitoring the sites and the public will be advised of any changes in water quality. Facts about cyanobacteria:
For further information visit http://ecan.govt.nz/services/online-services/monitoring/swimming-water-quality/Pages/river-warnings.aspxOr contact Community and Public Health on (03) 364 1777.
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