The Florida Department of Health issued a health advisory for the waters off Bahia Beach in Ruskin. The water off the beach was tested on Dec. 28, and the sample indicated elevated levels of enterococcus bacteria. The rating was listed as “poor,” as opposed to “good” or “moderate.”
The water at Bahia Beach and other public water access sites is tested weekly. The previous week, the water quality was considered “good.” The last poor rating at Bahia Beach was in November and, prior to that, in July.
According to the Department of Health, the test results indicate that contact with the water at that site “may pose increased risk of infectious disease, particularly for susceptible individuals.”
Enterococcus exists in nearly every environment on earth. In saltwater, it is generally assumed to result from storm water runoff containing animal or human waste. The chance of infection in humans is increased if contact is made with an open wound. It can cause intestinal or urinary tract infections, among other maladies. It is particularly serious for those who are immune-compromised.
A new sample will be taken and tested this week.
For more information about water quality testing at Florida beaches, visit the Florida Department of Health’s Healthy Beaches Program website at www.floridahealth.gov/environmental-health/beach-water-quality.