23 December 2005
Algal Bloom Warning For Lake Tutira
Hawke’s Bay District Health Board’s Public Health Unit has issued a health warning following the discovery of
cyanobacteria algal blooms in Lake Tutira, north of Napier.
Exposure to cyanobacteria and its toxins can have health effects, including severe skin rashes and stomach upsets, and
can spark hay fever and asthma attacks.
Medical Officer of Health Dr Caroline McElnay, said people should not swim in Lake Tutira, or pursue any other
recreational activities which will involve significant contact with the lake water. It is important the water is not
used for drinking or cooking purposes.
“If you think you may have been in contact with the bloom and experience any of the symptoms (i.e. severe skin rash,
stomach upset, hay fever or asthma attack) you should contact a doctor,” Dr McElnay said. There is no specific treatment
other than managing the symptoms.
Dog owners should also keep their dogs away from contact with the lake water.
Monitoring of the situation will continue over the holiday period, and signs are being erected at Lake Tutira. To get
the latest information ring the Public Health Unit "Safe Swimming Line" 06 878 1368.
WHAT ARE CYANOBACTERIA?
Cyanobacteria are an ancient group of organisms with characteristics in common with both bacteria and algae. In certain
environmental and hydrological conditions, plankton (free-floating) cyanobacteria cells can multiply and form what are
known as algal blooms. Cyanobacteria can also grow in bottom substrates forming mats, which can sometimes detach and
float to the surface. Some cyanobacteria species produce toxins (cyanotoxins), which pose a risk to humans and animals
when consumed in drinking water or by direct contact during recreational activities.