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Algal Bloom Warning for Lake Tutira

13 February 2008

Algal Bloom Warning for Lake Tutira

Hawke’s Bay District Health Board’s Public Health Unit has issued a health warning following the discovery of high levels of blue-green algae (cyanobacteria) in Lake Tutira, north of Napier.

Exposure to the algae and its toxins can have health effects, including severe skin rashes stomach upsets, and can spark hay fever and asthma attacks.

Medical Officer of Health Dr Caroline McElnay, said that people should not swim in Lake Tutira, or pursue any other recreational activities which will involve significant contact with the lake water.

It is important that the water is not used for drinking or cooking purposes.

Dog owners should also keep their dogs away from contact with the lake water.

What are Blue-Green Algae?

Blue-green algae are an ancient group of organisms with characteristics in common with both bacteria and algae. In certain environmental and hydrological conditions, plankton (free-floating) cells can multiply and form what are known as algal blooms. The algae can also grow in bottom substrates forming mats, which can sometimes detach and float to the surface. Some blue-green algae produce toxins (cyanotoxins), which pose a risk to humans and animals when consumed in drinking water or by direct contact during recreational activities.

“If you think you may have been in contact with the bloom and experience any of the symptoms (i.e. severe skin rash, stomach upset, hay fever or asthma attack) you should contact a doctor,” Dr McElnay said. There is no specific treatment other than managing the symptoms.

Monitoring of the situation will continue, and signs are being erected at Lake Tutira.

To get the latest information ring the Public Health Unit "Safe Swimming Line" 06 878 1368.

ENDS

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