A health warning has been issued today at Waitangi on the Kaituna River. The health warning is based on the results released today for levels of cyanobacteria, or algal bloom, in water samples, visual assessments and satellite imagery provided by the Bay of Plenty Regional Council.
Today’s warning extends previous health warnings issued for the Ohau Channel and the upper Kaituna River, Lake Rotorua, the Okere Arm and Te Weta Bay of Lake Rotoiti and Lake Maraetai.
“It is important to avoid any activity which results in contact with the lake water,” says Dr Gregory Evans, Public Health Medicine Physician for Toi Te Ora Public Health.
Cyanobacteria can release toxins which can trigger asthma and hayfever symptoms, skin rashes, stomach upsets, and in some cases neurological effects such as tingling around the mouth, headaches, breathing difficulties and visual problems.
“Algal mats and scum may also accumulate along the shoreline of the lake and so it’s especially important that parents ensure that children avoid contact with these as they may be toxic,” says Dr Evans.
Dogs are particularly at risk and should also be kept away from the shoreline. Elsewhere in New Zealand there have been reported deaths of dogs that have eaten algae on shorelines.