Toxic algae in river prompts warning

13:13, Feb 22 2014

A poisonous algae toxic to people and animals has been detected in Central Otago's Manuherikia River at Ophir.

The Otago Regional Council has put up signs at Ophir bridge and upstream in Booths Rd warning dog owners to keep their animals out of the water until further notice. People should not swim in the water until the toxicity dropped to safe levels.

The regional council's director of engineering, hazards and science, Gavin Palmer, said it was potentially fatal to dogs. "Dogs can eat these algae intentionally or by accident, when drinking from the river or retrieving sticks, with tragic results."

Symptoms of poisoning in animals included lethargy, muscle tremors, fast breathing, twitching, paralysis, and convulsions. In extreme cases, death could occur within 30 minutes of the first signs appearing.

People should seek medical advice immediately if they became ill after swallowing water containing algal bloom.

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