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High bacteria count detected at Kanaha

High levels of bacteria have been detected at Kanaha Beach, the state Department of Health announced Friday morning.

During routine beach monitoring, the department’s Clean Water Branch detected enterococci levels of 364 per 100 milliliters, indicating that potentially harmful microorganism such as bacteria, viruses, protozoa or parasites may be present in the water.

The advisory will remain in effect until water sample results no longer exceed the threshold level of 130 enterococci per 100 mL.

Swimming at beaches with pollution in the water may lead to illness, the department said. Children, the elderly and people with weakened immune systems are the most likely to develop illnesses or infections after coming into contact with polluted water, usually while swimming. The department said that while swimming-related illnesses can be unpleasant, they are usually not very serious, requiring little or no treatment or improving quickly upon treatment, and they have no long-term health effects.

The most common illness associated with swimming in water polluted by fecal pathogens is gastroenteritis. It occurs in a variety of forms that can have one or more of the following symptoms: nausea, vomiting, stomachache, diarrhea, headache or fever. Other minor illnesses associated with swimming include ear, eye, nose and throat infections. In highly polluted water, swimmers may occasionally be exposed to more serious diseases.

Not all illnesses from a day at the beach are from swimming. Food poisoning from improperly refrigerated picnic lunches may also have some of the same symptoms as swimming-related illnesses, including stomachache, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea.