Media release

SDHB - Health advice - Queenstown Bay water contamination

Monday 7 January 2019

The information below is from a Southern District Health Board media release published 07/01/2019

Results from further testing of water quality at Lake Wakatipu’s Queenstown Bay by Queenstown Lakes District Council have shown the elevated E. coli levels reported yesterday (Sunday, 6 January 2019) have now subsided.

However, Public Health South is reminding people there is a possibility that anyone who was exposed to the contaminated water may develop gastroenteritis caused by a variety of organisms such as Campylobacter, Giardia and Cryptosporidium.

Southern DHB Medical Officer of Health Dr Marion Poore says, “The main health problem is gastroenteritis which is most likely to occur between 3 – 10 days after exposure to water with elevated levels of E. coli bacteria. Symptoms may include diarrhoea, vomiting, abdominal cramps and fever and people may be sick for several days.

“Gastroenteritis is a self-limiting condition and usually no specific treatment is required, but maintaining hydration through drinking safe water is important with paracetamol to relieve cramps or fever, and resting at home.  Gastroenteritis can be highly infectious so maintaining good hand hygiene and staying home while sick, really helps to avoid passing illness on to others.” 

If you are concerned about your health or the health of a family member, contact your family doctor or ring HealthLine on 0800 611 116.

Key actions to reduce the chance of gastroenteritis illness:

Please stay home from early childhood centres/schools, work and other public places, while you are sick and for at least 48 hours after the last episode of diarrhoea or vomiting.

Don’t prepare or handle food for others for at least 48 hours after the symptoms stop.

Thoroughly clean contaminated surfaces with soap and water first and then disinfect by using a bleach-based disinfectant.

Wash your hands frequently and thoroughly with soap and water and then completely dry them.