TOI TE ORA – PUBLIC HEALTH
Media release| Pānui pāpāho 24 October 2020
A health warning has been issued for the south-eastern bays of Lake Taupō from Hatepe to Motuoapa, including Bulli Point, Motutere Bay and Motuoapa Bay.
Waikato Regional Council has confirmed that the dense algal bloom that has been sighted in these areas does contain potentially toxic blue-green algal species.
“This health warning means that people should avoid any activity which results in contact with the lake water in these areas,” says Dr Neil de Wet, Medical Officer of Health.
Dr de Wet adds, “With high levels of blue-green algae, activities such as swimming, paddling or other water sports could expose people to toxins when in the water, or through splashes and spray.”
Contact with water affected by blooms of blue-green algae can cause asthma and hayfever attacks in some individuals. Contact with the blue-green algae can also cause skin rashes, stomach upsets, and in some cases neurological effects such as tingling around the mouth, headaches, breathing difficulties and visual problems.
“This is a dense surface bloom and is very visible. It may spread and may also move rapidly with changes in wind direction. So in areas near the affected areas, and elsewhere in Lake Taupō, it is important to be vigilant and look out for algal blooms,” says Dr de Wet. “If the water looks discoloured, has an unusual smell, or has green or brown particles floating in it then it is best to avoid contact with it.”
Material from algal blooms can wash up on the shoreline and these collections of algae and scum can be very toxic. It’s especially important to keep children away from algae collections on the shoreline and not let them touch it. Dogs are often particularly susceptible to these toxins and ingestion can be fatal, so it’s important to keep dogs and other pets and livestock away from the water and the shoreline.
Signage will be erected by Taupō District Council at affected areas advising potential lake users about the algal bloom.
Up-to-date information on health warnings for the Bay of Plenty and Lakes districts is available through these channels:
- Phone: 0800 221 555
- Website: toiteora.govt.nz/health_warnings
- Facebook: facebook.com/toiteora
- Twitter: twitter.com/toiteora
- Email alerts for subscribers: toiteora.govt.nz/alert
For more information, contact:
Liz Taylor, Communications Advisor
Ph: 027 836 4892