Another Canterbury water warning

Today brings another water quality warning to Canterbury dog owners. This time, it is Lake Ellesmere.

TO: News Room
FROM: Media Liaison
DATE: February 3, 2011
SUBJECT: Health Warning – Algal Bloom in Te Waihora/Lake Ellesmere

The Community and Public Health division of Canterbury District Health Board has issued a health warning because of increased concentrations of blue-green algae (planktonic cyanobacteria) being found in Te Waihora/Lake Ellesmere

People should stay out of the water at this lake until the health warnings have been lifted. Algae are particularly dangerous for dogs, so they should be kept away from the water.

Canterbury Medical Officer of Health Dr Alistair Humphrey says although the algal bloom does not contain the acutely toxic species there is still the increased probability of respiratory, irritation and allergy symptoms from exposure to the very high density of the cyanobacterial material present.

“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. Boiling the water does not remove the toxin.”

Animals should be taken to a vet immediately if they display any unusual symptoms after coming into contact with the algal bloom.

Eating fish should be avoided because the toxins can concentrate in their bodies. 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
Or contact Community and Public Health on (03) 364 1777.

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