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Health Warning Issued for Lake Ohakuri

Wednesday, 12 January 2011 4:05 p.m.

A health warning has been issued for Lake Ohakuri today as routine summer monitoring results provided by Waikato Regional Council have confirmed blooms of blue-green algae which are potentially toxic.  "Blue-green algae are present in Lake Ohakuri at levels that may result in adverse health effects and so it is advisable for people to avoid contact with the water," says Dr Jim Miller, Medical Officer of Health.

Contact with algal blooms can trigger asthma and hayfever attacks in susceptible individuals, as well as causing skin rashes, stomach upsets, and in some cases neurological effects such as tingling around the mouth, headaches, breathing difficulties and visual problems.

Lake Ohakuri lies mid way between Rotorua and Taupo.  Signage will be erected at Lake Ohakuri advising potential lake users of the algal bloom.

"Ongoing weekly monitoring of the main lakes and rivers in the Bay of Plenty will continue throughout the summer and the public will be advised where high levels of blue-green algae are detected" says Dr Miller, "However, in the right conditions algal blooms can develop rapidly and unpredictably, so wherever you are swimming this summer it is important to 'look before you leap' and make your own judgement of the water - if in doubt stay out."

If the water has a musty smell, if it appears murky with a blue or greenish tinge, or if there is a scum on the surface, people should avoid entering the water. Pets should also be kept away from areas where blooms are present.