Tēnā koe,

Te Whatu Ora Te Tai Tokerau Medical Officer of Health, Catherine Jackson has issued an advisory warning people in Northland to stay out of waterways, flood waters and harbours and avoid contact with contaminated water.

Please see advice below. It would be appreciated if you could please share this message with your networks.

Effective Tuesday 10 January 2023

Avoid flood waters, stream, river and harbour water

High rainfall with flooding in parts of Northland has resulted in some contaminated waterways and some flooded low-lying land.

Always assume flood water will be contaminated by sewage.

Who is affected?

  1. Anyone exposed to contaminated water when carrying out clean up and repair work from storm damage
  2. Swimmers and people with recreational contact with contaminated water
  3. Shellfish gatherers.

What are the health risks?

There are potential health risks associated with contaminated flood water such as the spread of gastroenteritis (diarrhoea and vomiting).

  • Gastrointestinal illness
  • Skin infections
  • Respiratory infections.

Always assume that all flood water is potentially contaminated with farm run-off, faecal matter from animals, and sewage.

Children in particular must keep away from flood waters.

What can you do?

  • The best advice is to keep away from flood waters, use only a clean water supply for drinking, cooking, and washing
  • hand washing is always vitally important to help prevent the spread of disease
  • hands must be washed with soap and water and dried properly after any contact with flood water, flooded property, after going to the toilet, and before preparing or eating any food.

Swimmers and people with recreational contact with contaminated water

  • The usual advice for swimmers in contaminated water is to stay out of the water for five (5) days from the time that the sewage spill ceases or until water tests show that it is safe to swim.
  • People involved in activities that are likely to involve head immersion such as kayaking and dingy sailing should follow the same advice as for swimmers.
  • People who have contact with sewage-contaminated water should always thoroughly wash and dry their hands with soap and water afterwards.
  • Open cuts or sores should be kept clean and covered with waterproof sticking plasters. If a cut develops redness, swelling, or infection seek immediate medical attention.

Shellfish gatherers

Do not collect shellfish likely to be contaminated with human sewage for at least 28 days from the time of contamination.

Ngā mihi,

Catherine Jackson

Medical Officer of Health

Te Whatu Ora – Te Tai Tokerau

Phone: 09 430 4100