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Appendix 5: Media release – planktonic cyanobacteria

The following is an example of text for inclusion in media releases for recreational water bodies affected by planktonic cyanobacteria

Health Warning Issued for < name of water body >
<Day, Month, Year>
<Time>
For Immediate Release:

Tests carried out by < agency > have shown high concentrations of cyanobacteria (blue-green algae) at < name of water body > and a health warning has now been issued. Visitors to < name of water body > are advised not to use the water body for recreational purposes until health warnings are removed.

Cyanobacteria produce toxins that are harmful to humans and animals if swallowed or through contact with skin (such as may occur when swimming, water skiing or kayaking). Exposure to cyanobacteria may cause symptoms such as skin rashes, nausea, tummy upset and tingling and numbness around the mouth or tips of fingers. If you experience health symptoms after contact with contaminated water, contact < name of agency > and visit a doctor immediately. Boiling water does not remove toxins and drinking of the water should be avoided at all times.

Fish and shellfish can concentrate toxins and their consumption should be avoided. If fish are eaten, remove the gut and liver and wash in clean water.

Cyanobacteria occur naturally but can increase rapidly during summer months. If the water is cloudy, discoloured, or has small globules suspended in it, avoid all contact. Not all cyanobacterial blooms are visible to the naked eye and toxins can persist after the bloom has disappeared. Cyanobacterial concentrations can change quickly with changing environmental conditions (eg, wind). If a health warning is in place, avoid contact with the water.

< agency > monitors cyanobacteria weekly at < name of water body > during summer and the public will be advised of any changes in water quality that are of public health significance.

For further information, visit < website address > or contact < name and telephone number >

Press release ends.