Vacationers beware: No-swim advisory issued for popular Florida panhandle beaches

Courtesy: Flickr/Steve Evans from Citizens of the World

WALTON COUNTY, Fla. (WIAT) — A number of popular beaches along the Florida panhandle are under a no-swim advisory for a possibly unsafe level of fecal bacteria.

The Florida Department of Public Health says eight Florida panhandle beaches are affected by the no-swim warning: two in Walton County, and six in Okaloosa County.

Okaloosa County beaches:

  • Garniers Par
  • Poquito Park
  • Rocky Bayou State Park
  • East Pass
  • Clement E. Taylor Par
  • Henderson Beach

Walton County beaches:

  • County Park (Miramar) Beach
  • Blue Mountain Beach

The Panama City tourism Facebook page says Panama City Beach is in the clear.

The bacteria affecting the beaches is called Enterococci. It is an indication of fecal pollution since the bacteria is usually found in the intestinal tract of humans and animals.

“Enterococci may come from stormwater runoff, pets and wildlife, and human sewage. If they are present in high concentrations in recreational waters and are ingested while swimming or enter the skin through a cut or sore, they may cause human disease, infections or rashes,” the Florida Healthy Beaches website says.

The bacteria grow in high salt concentrations. According to Medscape, infections commonly caused by the bacteria are: “urinary tract infection (UTIs),endocarditis, bacteremia, catheter-related infections, wound infections, and intra-abdominal and pelvic infections.”

The Department of Public Health says to stay out of water, regardless of advisories, if you have any open wounds.

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