Riley Jennings, 14, of Hiouchi, Calif., rides a wave at Harris Beach near Brookings.

Harris Beach bacteria triggers advisory against water contact

Rogue Valley residents looking to escape to Brookings to avoid the heat and smoke here also will have to avoid the surf.

Higher than normal levels of bacteria detected in the water at Harris Beach State Park led the Oregon Health Authority Thursday to issue a public health advisory against water contact there.

Water samples indicate the presence of fecal bacteria, which can cause diarrhea, stomach cramps, skin rashes, upper respiratory infections and other illnesses, according to the OHA.

People should avoid direct contact with the water in this area until the advisory is lifted. This applies especially to children and the elderly, who may be more vulnerable to waterborne bacteria.

Ocean bacteria levels can generate from shore and inland sources, such as stormwater runoff, sewer overflows, failing septic systems and animal waste from livestock, pets and wildlife, according to the agency. That is why public health officials generally warn against swimming or wading in the ocean within two days after a rainstorm.

Park visitors should not only avoid the open surf but also wading in any nearby creeks, pools of water on the beach and especially any sources of discolored water.

For status updates, visit the Oregon Beach Monitoring Program website at www.healthoregon.org/beach.

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