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Health Warnings For Canterbury Rivers

Contributor:
Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

Wellington, Jan 20 NZPA - Canterbury District Health Board has issued a health warning following ongoing high levels of faecal bacteria in samples taken from the Ashburton/Hakatere River.

Canterbury medical officer Alistair Humphrey said people using the river should be aware the water quality was not considered suitable for recreation because of health risks caused by the bacteria.

Water contaminated by human or animal faecal matter may contain a range of disease causing micro-organisms such as viruses, bacteria and protozoa, he said.

"In most cases the ill-health effects from exposure to contaminated water are minor and short-lived.

"However, there is the potential for more serious diseases, such as hepatitis A, giardia, cryptosporosis, campylobacter and salmonella."

Ashburton District Council is placing warning signs along the river to advise the public of the health risks.

Canterbury health authorities have also issued a health warning for the Ashley River at Loburn Bridge after high levels of potentially toxic blue-green algae (benthic cyanobactera) were found.

Humans and animals, particularly dogs, should avoid the site until health warnings has been lifted.

Dr Humphrey said the algal mats can produce toxins harmful to humans and animals.

"Exposure can cause skin rashes, nausea, stomach cramps, tingling and numbness around the mouth and fingertips," he said.

"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.

"No one should drink the water from the river at any time."

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