Algal Bloom Warning

Wednesday October 18, 2017

 

Health Warning  – Algal Bloom in Lake Forsyth/Te Roto o Wairewa

The Community and Public Health division of Canterbury District Health Board has issued a health warning after potentially toxic blue-green algae (planktonic cyanobacteria) was found in Lake Forsyth/Te Roto o Wairewa

People and animals, particularly dogs, should avoid Lake Forsyth/Te Roto o Wairewa until the health warning has been lifted.

Recent testing indicated high numbers of the potentially toxic cyanobacterium Aphanizomenon were present in the water of Lake Forsyth/ Te Roto o Wairewa. The cyanobacteria is not always visible, however this filamentous algae can form dense blooms near the surface.

Dr Alistair Humphrey, Canterbury Medical Officer of Health says the algal bloom can produce toxins harmful to humans and animals; people should avoid contact with the water until further notice.

"Exposure may cause skin rashes, nausea, stomach cramps, tingling and numbness around the mouth and fingertips. If you experience any of these symptoms visit your doctor immediately and please let your doctor know if you have had contact with the lake water," Dr Humphrey says.

No one should drink the water from the lake at any time, Dr Humphrey says. Boiling the water does not remove the toxin.

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

Fish and shellfish can concentrate toxins and their consumption should be avoided. If fish are eaten, remove the gut and liver and wash in clean water.

Environment Canterbury monitors the lake weekly during summer and the public will be advised of any changes in water quality that are of public health significance.

Facts about cyanobacteria:

  • The algae occur naturally but can increase rapidly during warmer months.

  • If the water is cloudy, discoloured, or has small globules suspended in it, avoid all contact.

  • Not all cyanobacterial blooms are visible to the naked eye and toxins can persist after the blooms disappear.

  • Cyanobacterial concentrations can change quickly with changing environmental conditions (e.g. wind). If a health warning is in place avoid contact with the water.

For further information visit:

https://www.ecan.govt.nz/your-region/your-environment/water/swimming-water-quality/

Or contact Community and Public Health on (03) 364 1777.

ENDS

Page last reviewed: 20 October 2017
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