Sarasota Co. Department of Health issues swim ban for high levels of bacteria at Bird Key Park
SARASOTA COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) – The Florida Department of Health issued a “No Swim” advisory for Bird Key Park in Sarasota County after it detected high levels of bacteria in the water on Monday, November 22 .
FDOH said the Environmental Protection Agency has linked health to water quality when it comes to bacteria. Currently, wading, swimming and water recreation are not recommended.
Follow-up tests on the water have been carried out and the results are expected on Friday, November 26. Enterococcus bacteria usually come from both natural and man-made sources, according to the Department of Health. These sources “include wastes from domestic animals, livestock, birds, terrestrial and marine wildlife, storm water runoff, and human sewage from faulty septic systems and sewage spills.”
“When these bacteria are found at high levels in recreational waters, there is a risk that some people will get sick. People, especially those who are very young, elderly, or with weakened immune systems, who swallow water while swimming, may have stomach or intestinal illnesses. If water comes in contact with a cut or sore, people can get infections or rashes. said Tom Higginbotham, environmental administrator for DOH-Sarasota.
The Sarasota County Rapid Response Team reportedly determined the cause of the high levels of bacteria to be likely natural sources, after “observing a line of rotting algae along the shore.” Wrack lines provide food for shorebirds and other wildlife, and act as natural reservoirs for bacteria, according to FDOH.
“Residents and visitors are urged not to wade, swim or engage in water recreation on these beaches until the warning is lifted,” said FDOH. “In addition, you should not eat shellfish such as crabs and shrimp picked up in the immediate vicinity of a beach with a no-swim warning. Fish caught alive and sound can be eaten if they are filleted.
The health service is also urging bathers not to let their pets roam beaches and parks, and to pick up animal waste. The department said children in diapers and people of all ages with diarrhea should not go in the water.