A no swim advisory has been issued for some Sarasota County beaches as a precaution due to higher levels of bacteria found in the water, according to the Sarasota County Department of Health.
The advisories are in effect at the following beaches:
- Turtle Beach
- Venice Beach
- Venice Fishing Pier Beach
- Manasota Key Beach
The amount of enterococcus bacteria found during water quality testing on Thursday was outside acceptable limits, officials said.
Enterococcus bacteria can come from a slew of natural and human-made sources, including pet waste, livestock, birds, wildlife, stormwater runoff and human sewage from failed septic systems and sewage spills.
No sewage spills have been reported within one mile of the beaches in the past month, health officials said. Teams have determined the cause of the elevated levels is likely due to natural sources.
The beaches remain open but wading, swimming and water recreation are not recommended as long as an advisory is in place.
While some bacteria are naturally present in the environment, the Environmental Protection Agency has found a link between health and water quality.
Signage advising the public not to swim or engage in water recreation will stay in place until follow-up water testing results meet the EPA's recreational water quality standard.
The department expects to have the next round of test results available on Friday.
"When these bacteria are found at high levels in recreational waters, there is a risk that some people may become ill," said DOH-Sarasota Environmental Administrator Tom Higginhotham. "People, especially those who are very young, elderly or who have a weak immune system who swallow water while swimming can get stomach or intestinal illnesses. If water comes in contact with a cut or sore, people can get infections or rashes."
In addition, people are advised not to eat shellfish such as crabs and shrimp collected in the immediate area of any beach with a no-swim advisory in place, officials said.
To help keep beach water safe do not allow pets to roam on beaches and in park areas and make sure to pick up pet waste.