Cyanobacteria in Tomahawk Lagoon

The Otago Regional Council is warning people to avoid contact with Tomahawk Lagoon in Dunedin after potentially toxic blue-green algae were found.

The council issued a statement  yesterday saying  testing of a sample taken  from the lagoon indicated the presence of high levels of blue-green algae (cyanobacteria).

Signs had been put up to warn the public of the risks associated with the bloom and people were advised  to avoid contact with the waters and keep dogs away.

Cyanobacteria symptoms could include skin rashes, nausea, tummy upset,  and tingling and numbness around the mouth or tips of fingers. Anyone experiencing health symptoms after contact with contaminated water should visit their doctor. Dogs coming into contact with the cyanobacteria should be hosed down in the first instance to remove it from their skin, and a veterinarian contacted should their condition worsen.

Cyanobacteria could occur naturally but could increase rapidly during summer months, particularly when the weather had been warm. If the water was green or had floating bright green or blue scums, all contact should be avoided. Not all cyanobacterial blooms were visible to the naked eye and toxins could persist after the bloom had disappeared. 

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