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Appendix 10: Media release – benthic cyanobacteria

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

<Day, Month, Year>

For Immediate Release:

Tests carried out by < agency > have shown high abundance of benthic cyanobacteria (blue-green algae) at < name of water body > and a health warning has now been issued. Humans and animals (in particular dogs) should avoid contact with < name of water body > until health warnings are removed.

Cyanobacteria produce toxins that are harmful to humans and animals if swallowed or through contact with skin. 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. Animals that consume cyanobacteria should be taken to a vet immediately.

Cyanobacteria occur naturally but can increase rapidly during warmer periods of the year. Benthic cyanobacteria usually occur as dark brown/black mats which grow attached to rocks in the river or accumulate on the surface in shallow, slow-flowing areas. They often have a strong, musty smell. Cyanobacterial concentrations can vary quickly with changing environmental conditions; for example, high river levels will remove cyanobacteria. 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.