Local Govt | National News Video | Parliament Headlines | Politics Headlines | Search

 


Otago Public Reminded About Toxic Algal Blooms

MEDIA RELEASE

December 21, 2012

Otago Public Reminded About Toxic Algal Blooms

The Otago Regional Council (ORC) and Public Health South are reminding the public to keep their distance from some popular swimming locations in Otago because of potentially toxic algal blooms. The two organisations have reiterated their earlier warning of December 6 for people not to come in contact with the water in these places.

ORC director of environmental information and science John Threlfall said it has been confirmed that Lake Waihola south of Dunedin, the upper Tomahawk lagoon, and the lower Taieri River near Henley, contain the potentially toxic blue-green algae Anabaena lemmermannii. However, it could be present in other areas as well.

This algae, which is dark green, can produce a series of toxins which are then passed to the water and can be fatal to dogs and cause illness in people. The degree of toxicity is impossible to predict, but a test carried out on a sample from Lake Waihola showed that no toxins were present at that time at that point.

Southern District Health Board Medical Officer of Health Dr Marion Poore said people swimming in water with increased levels of algal bloom have been known to develop allergic reactions: asthma, eye irritations, rashes, blistering around the mouth and nose, and gastro-intestinal disorders, including abdominal pain, cramps, and diarrhoea.

People should not swim in areas affected by the algae, and other water users, including fishermen and boat users, should exercise caution, Dr Poore said.

Any reaction depends on the type of toxins present, and the concentration of the toxin in the water. The higher the concentration of toxins and the longer the contact with the water, the more severe the symptoms are likely to be. It is difficult to know whether toxins are present at any one time or location, therefore a precautionary approach is strongly recommended.

Dogs are particularly susceptible to poisoning from both mat-forming and free-floating toxic algae as they enjoy being in the water and can consume these algae intentionally or by accident. Livestock are also at risk from poisoning from cytotoxins and should be provided with alternative drinking water.

Symptoms of poisoning in animals exposed to the type of toxins present in anabaena mats include lethargy, muscle tremors, fast breathing, twitching, paralysis, convulsions. In extreme cases, death can occur within 30 minutes after signs first appear.

“In the case of illness or suspected illness after swallowing water containing algal bloom, seek advice from your doctor. If your animals become sick, contact your veterinarian immediately," Dr Poore said.

ORC has put out warning signs at the locations where the algae has been found, but not all sites will be known.

Dr Poore says her office has received a number of calls from the public concerned about the safety of eating fish caught in these waters.

“Unfortunately, there is very little information about the potential toxic effects of eating fish caught from waters with a cyanobacteria bloom,” she said.

Some algae toxins have been found to accumulate in fish tissues, especially in the internal organs such as the liver and kidneys. Toxin accumulation studies suggest that the muscle (fillet) tissue is less affected by algae toxins.

Dr Poore said people choosing to eat fish caught from waters affected by a blue-green algae bloom should use gloves when removing the fat, skin, and organs before cooking, and be careful not to cut into the organs.

Before cooking or freezing the fish, the fillets should be rinsed with clean water to remove any contaminants from the cleaning process.

It is also important to wash all equipment in clean water afterwards.

“As a precaution, we advise against eating any freshwater shellfish such as kakahi or freshwater mussels,” Dr Poore said.

“For those people who eat a lot of fish taken from cyanobacteria bloom-affected waters there is a potential risk of accumulation of toxins in their system. Limiting the number of fish meals to two per week will help avoid this situation,” she said.

ENDS

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
Parliament Headlines | Politics Headlines | Regional Headlines

 

Breed Laws Don’t Work: Vets On New National Dog Control Plan

It is pleasing therefore to see Louise Upston Associate Minister for Local Government calling for a comprehensive solution... However, relying on breed specific laws to manage dog aggression will not work. More>>

ALSO:

Corrections Corrected: Supreme Court Rules On Release Dates

Corrections has always followed the lawful rulings of the Court in its calculation of sentence release dates. On four previous occasions, the Court of Appeal had upheld Corrections’ practices in calculating pre-sentence detention. More>>

ALSO:

Not Waiting On Select Committee: Green Party Releases Medically-Assisted Dying Policy

“Adults with a terminal illness should have the right to choose a medically assisted death,” Green Party health spokesperson Kevin Hague said. “The Green Party does not support extending assisted dying to people who aren't terminally ill because we can’t be confident that this won't further marginalise the lives of people with disabilities." More>>

ALSO:

General Election Review: Changes To Electoral Act Introduced

More effective systems in polling places and earlier counting of advanced votes are on their way through proposed changes to our electoral laws, Justice Minister Amy Adams says. More>>

Gordon Campbell: On Our Posturing At The UN

In New York, Key basically took an old May 2 Washington Post article written by Barack Obama, recycled it back to the Americans, and still scored headlines here at home… We’ve had a double serving of this kind of comfort food. More>>

ALSO:

Treaty Settlements: Bills Delayed As NZ First Pulls Support

Ngāruahine, Te Atiawa and Taranaki are reeling today as they learnt that the third and final readings of each Iwi’s Historical Treaty Settlement Bills scheduled for this Friday, have been put in jeopardy by the actions of NZ First. More>>

ALSO:

Gordon Campbell: On The Damage De-Regulation Is Doing To Fisheries And Education, Plus Kate Tempest

Our faith in the benign workings of the market – and of the light-handed regulation that goes with it – has had a body count. Back in 1992, the free market friendly Health Safety and Employment Act gutted the labour inspectorate and turned forestry, mining and other workplace sites into death traps, long before the Pike River disaster. More>>

Get More From Scoop

 

LATEST HEADLINES

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Regional
Search Scoop  
 
 
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news