If you’re headed to Texas for spring break you might want to stay off the beach or at least out of the water, according to a new report.
Over a dozen popular beaches have tested positive for high levels of fecal bacteria according a website run by the Texas General Land Office. TexasBeachWatch.com says parts of Corpus Christi Bay and North Padre Island were both found to have high amounts of fecal bacteria in their waters.
The website also listed Matagorda Bay, Freeport, and parts of Galveston as places where fecal bacteria was on the rise. “Pathogens can make our waters unsafe for humans. Swimming and other recreational activities in water contaminated with pathogens can make people ill,” according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
The agency added that swimming in the polluted waters can cause nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, headaches, or various infections. Texas Beach Watch added that infections most commonly occur after microorganisms enter a swimmer’s body through cuts or tears in the skin.
State health officials also warned that the warm Texas waters may put people at risk for vibriosis, a sometimes fatal illness which is commonly contracted by eating raw or under-cooked seafood. Most vibriosis infections occur between May and October when coastal waters are at their highest temperatures.
Viruses cause the majority of illnesses associated with primary contact recreation in surface waters impacted by human sources. While EPA recommends coliphage as an option for evaluating fecal contamination in groundwater, the Agency does not currently have a recommended indicator of viruses in surface waters that is protective of human health for primary contact recreation. Coliphages, viruses used to indicate the presence of a health risk, are not themselves dangerous to human health.
Coliphages are useful for evaluating surface water quality because they exhibit numerous desirable indicator characteristics.
For example, they:
Are of fecal origin and present in high numbers in sewage;
Are physically similar to viruses causing illnesses associated with primary contact recreation;
Do not re-grow in surface waters, thus their presence specifically indicates fecal contamination;
Can be counted cheaply, easily, and quickly;
Show correlations to gastrointestinal illness; and
Are similarly resistant to sewage treatment and environmental insults as enteric viruses of concern.
Mr Americana, Overpasses News Desk
March 9th, 2018