Lake health warning

by Anonymous Author

The Canterbury District Health Board has issued a health warning for Lake Forsyth after the potentially toxic blue-green algae, planktonic cyanobacteria, was found in the lake.

The CDHB is warning that people and animals, particularly dogs, should avoid Lake Forsyth until the health warning has been lifted.

The cyanobacteria is not always visible, however the algae can form dense blooms near the surface.

Canterbury Medical Officer of Health, Dr Alistair Humphrey, said the algal bloom can produce toxins harmful to humans and animals; people should avoid contact with the water until further notice.

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

“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.”

He said no one should drink the water from the lake at any time, and boiling the water does not remove the toxin.

“Animals which show signs of illness after coming into contact with algal mats should be taken to a vet immediately. 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.