Health warning for Waikato lakes

23:44, Dec 04 2012

Health warnings have been issued for two Waikato lakes following an increase of bacteria in the water.

A cyanobacerial bloom has occurred in Lake Whangape, north-west of Huntly, and Waikare, east of Te Kauwhata, and Waikato District Health board is advising people to avoid coming into contact with the water.

The increase in bacteria is a seasonal event caused by longer daylight hours and warm weather.

Waikato DHB medical officer of health Dell Hood said the affected lakes should not be used for any activity which involves skin contact with the water.

“If people still choose to use the lakes when warnings are in place, or where there are visible changes to water colour, they should shower and change their clothing as soon as possible afterwards, even if no symptoms are noticeable.

‘‘Scums are a particular risk and contact with scums should be avoided.  If contact does occur, skin should be rinsed clean and clothing changed as soon as possible. Because of their small size, this warning is particularly important for children.’’


Swallowing water from lakes affected by blooms should also be avoided, she said.

Health effects include rashes, skin and eye irritation, allergy symptoms such as hayfever and asthma and stomach upsets such as diarrhoea and vomiting.

These effects may not appear until some time after contact with the affected water.

There are no health warnings for the five other Waikato lakes which are routinely tested, including Hamilton City’s Rotoroa.

However, it is likely that more health warnings will be required as summer progresses.

Waikato Times