Visitors to Shakerley Mere advised to avoid the water

9 July 2021

The Council is advising dog owners and other residents visiting Shakerley Mere in Northwich to avoid the water as it may contain toxins hazardous to animal health.

The Council’s Regulatory Services team is reacting to concerns raised about dead birds being found recently at the nature reserve along with presence of blue green algae.

The team also believes that avian botulism may be present in the water at the mere and residents and visitors are being advised of the precautionary measures they should take to protect themselves and their pets.

The risk to human health is considered very low but algal toxins in the water can cause rashes after skin contact and illnesses if swallowed.  There is slight risk to animals if they eat a bird that has died of avian botulism.

Residents should avoid entering the water to swim or paddle and prevent their pets from entering the water or drinking from it. Residents and visitors are also urged not to eat the fish at the site or feed the water birds.

Councillor Karen Shore, Deputy Leader of the Council and Cabinet Member for Environment, Highways and Strategic Transport, said: “Blue-green algae naturally occurs in inland waters, and is an important contributor to the aquatic biology of fresh and marine waters.

“However, when there is a shortage of oxygen in stagnant water during warmer weather, the presence of blue-green algae can lead to the production of the bacteria which causes avian botulism.  As some birds have died at the mere recently, avian botulism could be present there.

“As a precaution, we are advising dog owners and visitors this summer to avoid the water as it may be hazardous to the health of their pets.”
People should be aware of government advice on avian botulism on the gov.uk website: 
http://apha.defra.gov.uk/documents/surveillance/diseases/avian-botulism.pdf

Blue green algae and the botulinum toxin die off in the autumn in cooler conditions.

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