CYANOBACTERIAL WARNING UPDATE: Health warning issued for Lake Ngaroto
A new health warning has been issued today for Lake Ngaroto, due to a rise in cyanobacteria levels.
Waikato DHB’s Medical Officer of Health Dr Richard Vipond recommends that where cyanobacteria health warnings are in place, lakes should not be used for any activity that involves skin contact with the affected water.
“Swallowing water from lakes affected by blooms should also be avoided,” said Dr Vipond.
“Scums are a particular risk because they contain a high level of toxins. If contact with scum does occur, skin should be rinsed clean and clothing changed as soon as possible. This warning is particularly important for children.”
“If people still choose to use the lakes when warnings are in place, or any other lake where there are visible changes to water colour, they should shower and change their clothing as soon as possible afterwards, even if no symptoms are noticeable,” he said.
Symptoms include rash, skin and eye irritation; allergy symptoms such as hayfever and asthma; and possibly stomach upsets including diarrhoea and vomiting.
These symptoms may not appear until some time after contact with the affected water. Long-term exposure to cyanobacterial toxins may cause additional health risks.
Dog owners should prevent their dogs from drinking or swimming in the water, as dogs are particularly sensitive to cyanobacteria.
Cyanobacteria are a form of algae which can produce toxins harmful to the health of humans and animals exposed to or swallowing the water where the algae are growing.
Consuming fish from the lake is not recommended.
Waikato DHB’s Public Health Unit would like to be informed about health problems that develop after exposure to any of the Waikato lakes. Health advice is also available from the Public Health Unit on (07) 838 2569.
Up-to-date information on cyanobacterial cell counts is available from local councils and Waikato Regional Council.