Biological Hazard in New Zealand on December 18 2017 08:44 AM (UTC).
People are being warned to avoid a creek in Timaru following the discovery of a toxic algal bloom. The poisonous algae was found in Saltwater Creek at Coonoor Rd, on the southern edge of the South Canterbury town. Monitors found large amounts of free-floating cyanobacteria in the water and health bosses issued a warning for people to avoid the area and keep dogs away. Dr Daniel Williams, Canterbury medical officer of health, said the algal mats could produce toxins harmful to humans and animals. "Exposure may 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." He urged people to not drink from the river, even if water was boiled, and to take any animals to a vet immediately if they came into contact with the water. Temporary water restrictions were put in place on the creek two weeks ago as levels reached an unprecedented low following the driest November in Timaru for more than 20 years.