E. coli warning issued for Queenstown's Lake Wakatipu

Warning signs are being put up around Lake Wakatipu in Queenstown due to elevated levels of E. coli.

The bacterium has been found at Queenstown Bay, near the town centre. People are being advised to avoid contact with the lake water for now, as a precaution.

The Queenstown Lakes District Council issued a statement on Twitter on Sunday saying water quality monitoring shows "elevated levels of the E. coli bacteria at Queenstown Bay".

The findings are thought to be related to the current weather conditions, with high winds creating a choppy lake.

Queenstown Lakes District Council Chief Engineer Ulrich Glasner told the Otago Daily Times the water is being sampled and test results will be coming back on Monday morning.

"We will then be able to provide a further update to the community," he told the newspaper.

"Resampling will take place daily and the Bay's status updated once test results show E. coli levels have subsided."

An area of Lake Wakatipu, Frankton Bay, was found to be contaminated with high E.coli levels in February last year. And last month, antibiotic-resistant E. coli was discovered in three popular Canterbury rivers.

Fish & Game commissioned independent testing of the Ashley, Selwyn and Rangitata rivers in May and September, following concerns about river pollution from dairy farming.

The findings revealed the presence of an antibiotic-resistant E. coli and a dangerous strain of shiga toxin E. coli carried by cows.

Dr Alistair Humphrey, Canterbury Medical Officer of Health, said the toxin can cause gastrointestinal problems, diarrhea and vomiting - and more serious issues.


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