Council issues toxic algae warning for Aparima River

Environment Southland has issued a heath warning to people and animals to avoid venturing into the northern reaches of the Aparima River after toxic algae was discovered in the river.

Environment Southland senior scientist Roger Hodson said the green/brown slime, which could be seen on the rocks, or as dark brown/black mats at the water’s edge, was particularly toxic if it came into contact with the skin or was swallowed by humans or animals.

Dogs were particularly susceptible.

The area of the river where the toxic algae was found was close to Affleck Rd, south of Mossburn.

In 2015 a report to the Ministry for the Environment cited the algae, cyanobacteria, being responsible for the sudden deaths of dogs within minutes of their exposure at Southland’s Mataura River in 1999 and 2000.

Dogs were reported as shaking, convulsing, frothing at the mouth and collapsing shortly before death.

The Centres for Disease Control and Prevention say infection symptoms include gastrointestinal problems, such as nausea, vomiting and diarrhea.

Skin contact and eye exposure can result in dermatitis, blisters, conjunctivitis, runny nose, earache, sore throat and swollen lips.

Mr Hodson said if anyone was experiencing symptoms after contact with contaminated water they should visit a doctor immediately.

Pets with symptoms should be taken to a vet immediately.

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