A public health advisory was issued today due to higher-than-normal levels of bacteria in ocean waters at Mill Beach, located in Brookings.
Water samples indicate higher-than-normal levels of fecal bacteria, which can result in diarrhea, stomach cramps, skin rashes, upper respiratory infections and other illnesses. Direct contact with the water should be avoided in this area until the advisory is lifted, especially for children and the elderly, who may be more vulnerable to waterborne bacteria.
Increased pathogen and fecal bacteria levels in ocean waters can come from both shore and inland sources, such as stormwater runoff, sewer overflows, failing septic systems, and animal waste from livestock, pets and wildlife.
While this advisory is in effect at Mill Beach, visitors should avoid wading in nearby creeks, pools of water on the beach, or in discolored water, and stay clear of water runoff flowing into the ocean. Even if there is no advisory in effect, officials recommend avoiding swimming in the ocean within 48 hours after a rainstorm.
The status of water contact advisories at beaches is subject to change. For the most recent information on advisories, visit the Oregon Beach Monitoring Program website at www.healthoregon.org/beach or call 971-673-0400, or 877-290-6767 (toll-free).
Although state officials advise against water contact, they continue to encourage other recreational activities (flying kites, picnicking, playing on the beach, walking, etc.) on this beach because they pose no health risk even during an advisory. Neighboring beaches are not affected by this advisory.
Since 2003, state officials have used a federal Environmental Protection Agency grant to monitor popular Oregon beaches and make timely reports to the public about elevated levels of fecal bacteria. Oregon state organizations participating in this program are the Oregon Public Health Division, Oregon Department of Environmental Quality and Oregon Parks and Recreation Department.