River warning

by Anonymous Author

The Canterbury District Health Board is warning people and their animals to avoid the area of the Selwyn River at Whitecliffs Domain after the discovery of a potentially toxic blue-green algae.

The algae (benthic cyanobacteria) is potentially fatal to animals, particularly dogs, and the CDHB has issued a health warning for the area. 

Canterbury Medical Officer of Health Dr Alistair Humphrey said the algae look like dark brown to black mats and can produce toxins harmful to people and animals.

“Phormidium mats have been found in the river and some of these mats are detaching and accumulating at the sides of the river.

“Exposure may cause skin rashes, nausea, stomach cramps, tingling and numbness around the mouth and fingertips.

“No-one should drink the water from the river at any time, even after boiling the water from the river; it does not remove the toxin; therefore it should not be consumed.”

Dr Humphrey said if pets show signs of illness after coming into contact with algal mats they should be taken to a vet immediately.

He said that Selwyn District Council is following agreed procedures to ensure their reticulated drinking water supplies are safe, while Environment Canterbury is monitoring the site.

“People and animals should remain out of the waterways until the warnings have been lifted,” Dr Humphrey said.