Health warning: algal bloom downstream from Glentunnel Campsite swimming hole

Friday February 8, 2013

Community and Public Health, a division of the Canterbury District Health Board, have issued a health warning after potentially toxic blue-green algae (benthic cyanobacteria) were found in the Selwyn River in an area immediately downstream of the swimming hole at the Glentunnel Campsite.
 
People and animals, particularly dogs, should not swim in the area immediately downstream of the swimming hole at Glentunnel campsite until the warning has been lifted.
 
Dr Alistair Humphrey, Canterbury Medical Officer of Health, says the algae look like dark brown/black mats and can produce toxins harmful to humans 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 the water from the river at any time. Importantly, boiling water from the river does not remove the toxin.”
 
Animals that show signs of illness after coming into contact with mats should be taken to the vet immediately.
 
Environment Canterbury is monitoring the site and the public will be advised of any changes in water quality.
 
For further information, please see our Media Guide page.
Page last reviewed: 09 July 2013
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