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Bacteria prompts beach warning

From staff reports
Published:   |   Updated: March 18, 2013 at 09:08 PM

A health advisory was issued for five Pinellas County beaches Wednesday after elevated levels of enteric bacteria were found in water sampling.

Honeymoon Island, Sand Key Park, Indian Rocks Beach, Madeira Beach's Archibald Park and Redington Shores near 182nd Avenue West were listed in the advisory by the Pinellas County Health Department.

"These areas should be considered a potential health risk to swimmers," Maggie Hall, a spokeswoman for the department, said in a news release.

The presence of enteric bacteria is an indication of fecal pollution, which may come from stormwater runoff, pets, wildlife and sewage, the health department said. The bacteria could cause disease, infections or rashes.

The county conducts saltwater beach testing through the state's Healthy Beaches Monitoring Program.

The advisory was based on the bacterial indicator recommended by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The EPA standard for the bacteria is no more than 104 colony forming units per 100 milliliters of water.

The five beaches were given grades of "poor," meaning 105 units or greater were found, according to the monitoring program's website.

The sampling is for the period beginning Monday. Another sampling is slated for July 30.

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