Sunday 14 February 2021Media release3 minutes to read
Canterbury DHB Medical Officer of Health, Dr Cheryl Brunton, says while the risk to people’s health is believed to be low due to the large volume of water in the reservoir, there is potential for people to develop gastro illnesses if they drink water from the Akaroa reservoir without first boiling it.
“While chlorine will kill bacteria in the water supply, the possum and bird carcasses may have introduced other contaminants (protozoa) which aren’t killed by chlorine – they are, however, killed by boiling your water,” Dr Brunton said.
Protozoa are single cell organisms also known as parasites which include cryptosporidium and giardia.
Symptoms of cryptosporidiosis or giardiasis are similar and can include diarrhoea, stomach pain, cramps, nausea, vomiting, headaches and a high fever.
If you are concerned about your health call your own general practice team, or Healthline on 0800 611 116 – you can call 24/7 for free health advice.
“Both cryptosporidium and giardia in particular, can cause gastro symptoms that may persist for weeks, rather than days, and medical advice should be sought. While there’s no specific treatment for cryptosporidiosis, there is for giardia.
“Symptoms of both illnesses usually appear 2-10 days after becoming infected, however with giardiasis symptoms can appear up to 25 days after being infected.
“With any gastro illnesses that cause vomiting and diarrhoea, it’s important for people to keep their fluids up, be meticulous about handwashing and drying, and avoid preparing food for others while you have symptoms. People with more severe symptoms including fever, or who are finding it difficult to keep fluids down should seek medical advice. This is especially important for babies and young children and the elderly.
“The simple message is: If you live in Akaroa, do not drink the tap water – boil all water before using it for cooking, cleaning your teeth or for drinking. Or use clean, safe water from one of the tankers trucking water in from Christchurch, or use bottled water.
As of today, Sunday 14 February, there have been no notifications reported to Community & Public Health of illness due to the water in Akaroa.
Further information on cryptosporidium is available here: www.healthinfo.org.nz/ search ‘cryptosporidium’ and detailed information on giardiasis is available here: www.cph.co.nz/wp-content/uploads/Giardiasis.pdf
Page last updated: 19 August 2021
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