News Video | Policy | GPs | Hospitals | Medical | Mental Health | Welfare | Search


Three more toxic algae health warnings in Canterbury


February 5, 2014

Three more health warnings for Canterbury waterways

Cantabrians are being reminded to check the status of local waterways for toxic cyanobacteria this summer, following more health warnings being issued for the region today.

The Community and Public Health division of Canterbury District Health Board’s latest warnings are for Rutherford Crescent Reserve pond located in Hanmer Springs, Lake Ellesmere/ Te Waihora and the Ashley River, immediately above the State Highway One bridge.

The warnings come after the latest Environment Canterbury monitoring results show there are increased concentrations of potentially toxic cyanobacteria in these waterways.

Dr Alistair Humphrey, Canterbury Medical Officer of Health, says people and animals should stay out of the lake until the health warnings have been lifted.

The cyanobacteria in Lake Ellesmere are predominantly comprised of picocyanobacteria, which has been found to produce toxins in studies around the world and is particularly harmful to dogs. The Hanmer Springs cyanobacteria mostly comprises Anabaena, which visually gives a green “soupy” appearance to the water while the cyanobacteria at Ashley River at SH1 mostly comprises of Phormidium – a cyanobacteria which forms thick dark brown/black mats on the bed of the river.

“People and animals, particularly dogs, should avoid these waterways. Animals that show signs of illness after coming into contact with lake water or Phormidium mats should be taken to a vet immediately.”

No one should drink the water from the lake at any time, Dr Humphrey says.

“Boiling the water does not remove toxins. Symptoms from toxic exposure to the cyanobacteria range from rapid onset of nausea and diarrhoea, to gastroenteritis and other effects such as tingling and numbness around the mouth, fingertips, as well as liver damage,” Dr Humphrey says.

“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.”

Fish and shellfish can concentrate toxins and their consumption should be avoided. 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:

• It occurs 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


© Scoop Media

Culture Headlines | Health Headlines | Education Headlines


Scoop Review Of Books: Worldly And Unworldly

"Being Magdalene" by Fleur Beale The situations shown in this youth novel are shocking, scary, and very moving as we experience Magdalene’s struggle to be a perfect girl as defined by the cruel and unreasonable leader of “The Children of the Faith”, as she moves reluctantly into young womanhood. More>>

Whistle Stop: Netball NZ To Implement New INF Rules

Netball New Zealand (NNZ) will implement the new Official Rules of Netball, as set down by the International Netball Federation (INF), from January 1, 2016. Key changes include the elimination of whistle following a goal, amendments to injury time and changes to setting a penalty. More>>


Scoop Review Of Books: Waiata Aroha

Vaughan Rapatahana on Chappy by Patricia Grace: With this eminently readable novel Patricia Grace returns to the full-length fiction stage after a hiatus of ten years. More>>

'Ithaca' At Q Theatre: Introducing NZ's World Class Cirque Troupe

NZ’s very own cirque troupe is set to become a household name with the premier of its adaptation of Homer’s Odyssey having secured a key season in Auckland. More>>

Music Awards: The Tuis Are Broody This Year

Topping off a sensationally eventful year both at home and internationally, Nelson born brother-sister duo Broods has taken home four Tuis from this year’s 50th annual Vodafone New Zealand Music Awards. More>>


Sport: Richie McCaw Retires From Rugby

Richie McCaw has today confirmed he is hanging up his boots and retiring from professional rugby. The 34-year-old All Blacks captain and most capped All Black of all time has drawn the curtain on his stunning international career which started in Dublin 14 years ago, almost to the day, and ended in London last month when he hoisted the Webb Ellis Cup aloft for the second time. More>>


John McBeth: On Jonah Lomu

For many New Zealanders, the enormity of Jonah Lomu's reputation will have come as a surprise... His deeds were watched and enthused over by movie stars and musicians, politicians and superstars from other codes. He reached into the lives and homes of millions and mixed with famous people most New Zealanders would only have read about. More>>


Get More From Scoop



Search Scoop  
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news