In Addition to Red Tide, We've Got to Be Vigilant About Elevated Bacteria Levels in Our Waters Right Now
The Florida Department of Health (FDOH) issued a “No Swim” advisory for parts of Sarasota this week. Unsafe levels of enterococcus bacteria were found during water quality testing on March 6. While the beach remains open, the FDOH does not recommend wading, swimming or water recreation in areas where "No Swim" advisories are posted.
Department of Health Sarasota environmental administrator Tom Higginbotham warns the public of the consequences of being in water with unsuitable levels of bacteria.
“When these bacteria are found at high levels in recreational waters, there is a risk that some people may become ill," he says. "Those who are very young, elderly or who have a weak immune system who swallow water while swimming can get stomach or intestinal illnesses. If water contacts a cut or sore, people can get infections or rashes.”
This disappointing news is compounded by the elevated levels of red tide detected at all 16 Sarasota area beaches. The beaches remain open, but again, the DOH recommends that the public does not get in the water. While there are red tide remedies available that might reduce the severity of irritation caused by the bacteria, asthmatics and elderly folks with comorbidities are probably better off staying away from the beach entirely.