By Sierra Schuette
Blog Content Contributer
The very large amount of rain we have received in Texas recently has caused many problems , and one of them you may not be aware of is the levels of dangerous bacteria along the Texas coastline. On June 25, test results showed that there were very high amounts of Enterococci bacteria along the shores of Galveston, Port Aransas (#6), Corpus Christi, Cole Park (#2), Little Bay Ski Basin in Rockport, and Ropes Park (#2 and #3). As of June 27, test results showed that all Texas beaches had reduced from high levels of bacteria to medium or low levels.
Texas beaches are regularly monitored and tested for their levels of bacteria. After the long period of rainfall, high levels of Enterococci, bacteria found naturally in the intestinal tracts of animals and humans, were detected. These high bacteria levels were caused by run off from water treatment facilities, septic tanks, and vast amounts of rain water.The bacteria is measured in levels of CFU’s (Colony Forming Units) per 100 ml. Levels of bacteria over 104 CFU’s is dangerous, and at one beach in Galveston the bacteria level reached 140 CFU’s.
People with weak immune symptoms, open wounds, and medical conditions were encouraged to stay away from the water because the bacteria could cause illness. However, swimmers may swim at their own risk. The bacteria can cause gastroentertitis, fever, nausea, and diarrhea, it can also cause infections in open wounds or viral infections like hepatitis. Health departments along the coast tested the waters every day until bacteria levels decrease to a safer level.
In order to warn the public about bacteria levels, the Texas Beach Watch Program has been established and they work with local governments to issue warning advisories. The Texas Beach Watch Program has 167 stations along 65 of Texas’ beaches, this way they can test waters in the majority of public beaches. Bacteria is common in the water and we are in the midst of its peak season from May through September. So, before heading to the beach, visit the Texas Beach Watch Website to make sure the water is safe. As of now, only one beach is at high levels of bacteria, the rest are at mostly low and some medium levels. Continue to take precautions though and check levels before you hit the beach.