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Health Warning – Potentially Toxic Algal Bloom In Wainono Lagoon

Press Release – Canterbury District Health Board

Canterbury DHB’s Community and Public Health unit has issued a health warning after potentially toxic blue-green algae (planktonic cyanobacteria) was found in Wainono Lagoon. People should avoid the lake and animals, particularly dogs, should not be allowed near the water until the health warning has been lifted.

Dr Matthew Reid, 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 lagoon water, Dr Reid says.

No one should drink the water from the lake at any time and stock and pets, particular dogs, should be kept away from the water and shoreline. Boiling the water does not remove the toxin.

Animals that show signs of illness after coming into contact with algal mats or scums should be taken to a vet immediately and the vet told that they may have been exposed to algal toxins.

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.

Further information on gathering Mahinga Kai can be obtained below.

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

Facts about cyanobacteria:

  • Cyanobacteria occur naturally but can increase rapidly during warmer months.
  • Algal blooms are caused by a combination of nutrients in the water (such as nitrogen and phosphorus), and favourable weather conditions (e.g. increased temperature, calm days).
  • 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 details visit: https://www.lawa.org.nz/explore-data/canterbury-region/

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

https://www.cph.co.nz/your-health/recreational-water/

For more information about Mahinga Kai:

https://www.cph.co.nz/wp-content/uploads/saf0112.pdf

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