Community and Public Health (a division of the Canterbury District Health Board) have issued a health warning for the Selwyn/Waikirikiri River near Chamberlains Ford.
The warning follows finding a moderate cover of potentially toxic blue-green algae (benthic cyanobacteria) in the Selwyn/Waikirikiri River.
People and animals, particularly dogs, should avoid the area of the Selwyn/Waikirikiri near Chamberlains Ford until the health warning has been lifted.
Canterbury Medical Officer of Health Dr Alistair Humphrey says the algae look like dark brown to black mats and can produce toxins harmful to people and animals.
"Exposure may cause skin rashes, nausea, stomach cramps, tingling and numbness around the mouth and fingertips," Dr Humphrey says.
"If you experience any of these symptoms, visit your doctor immediately, also let your doctor know if you've had contact with dark brown/black algal mats or water in this area."
Pets that show signs of illness after coming into contact with algal mats should be taken to a vet immediately.
Dr Humphrey says people and animals should remain out of the waterways until the warnings have been lifted.
Environment Canterbury is monitoring the sites and the public will be advised of any changes in water quality.
The algae occur naturally but can increase rapidly during warmer
months – so river users are advised to treat every low-flowing river
and river channels cautiously.
Get further information on swimming water quality in Canterbury (Environment Canterbury). You can also contact Community and Public Health on (03) 364 1777.
Find out more about recreational water issues in your region (Community and Public Health).
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