Media Release - 23/12/10
Canterbury health authorities have issued a warning after potentially toxic blue-green algae (benthic cyanobacteria) was found in the Selwyn River/Waikirikiri at Glentunnel camp site.
Humans and animals, particularly dogs, should avoid the site until the health warnings have been lifted.
Canterbury Medical Officer of Health Alistair Humphrey says the algal mats can produce toxins harmful to humans and animals.
“Exposure may cause skin rashes, nausea, stomach cramps, tingling and numbness around the mouth and fingertips. If you experience any of these symptoms after contact with contaminated water, visit your doctor immediately,” he says.
Drinking contaminated water, even boiled water, from this site should be avoided at all times, Dr Humphrey says.
Animals should be taken to a vet immediately if they come into contact with the contaminated river.
Environment Canterbury is monitoring the site.
Environment Canterbury Senior Surface Water Quality Scientist David Kelly says that Phormidium cover of the stream bed at Glentunnel camp site is moderate to very high.
“Although our field staff did not observe Phormidium in the swimming hole at Glentunnel, mats are growing upstream and downstream, and there is a risk that these will detach and be carried downstream,” Dr Kelly says.
“At the time of survey, there were no concerns with mat growths at the other Selwyn sites that we survey, such as Whitecliffs and Coes Ford.”
Environment Canterbury monitors cyanobacteria weekly at the Selwyn River during summer and the public will be advised of any changes in water quality that are of public health significance.
Facts about cyanobateria:
For further information visit http://ecan.govt.nz/services/online-services/monitoring/swimming-water-quality/Pages/river-warnings.aspx
Or contact Community and Public Health on (03) 364 1777.