High levels of enterococcus bacteria are found; the next round of test results are expected after 2 p.m. on Friday.
SARASOTA COUNTY — The Florida Department of Health in Sarasota County has issued a no-swim advisory for Blind Pass Beach, as a precaution.
The health alert is for enterococcus bacteria found during routine water quality checks on Wednesday that were outside acceptable limits, the FDOH said. The beach on Manasota Key Road is open, but wading and swimming and water recreation is not recommended while the advisory is in effect.
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Signage has been put in place to advise the public of the water quality. It will remain in place until follow-up testing meets the Environmental Protection Agency's water quality standard.
The next round of tests is expected to be available Friday after 2 p.m.
Enterococcus can come from a variety of natural and human-made sources, the FDOH says. These include pet waste, livestock, birds, wildlife (land dwelling and marine), stormwater runoff, or human sewage from failed septic systems and sewage spills.
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No sewage spills have been reported within a mile of the posted beach in the past two weeks.
A "rapid response team" from Sarasota County has determined the cause of the elevated bacteria is likely because of natural sources, FDOH says. The team found a wrack line of decaying algae along the shoreline. These provide food for shorebirds and wildlife, and act as natural bacteria reservoirs.
Additional rainfall, 13.92 inches in July and 5.57 inches so far in August, washed accumulated pollutants from wildlife and pets into local waters, the FDOH says.
"When these bacteria are found at high levels in recreational waters, there is a risk that some people may become ill. People, especially the very young, elderly or who have a weak immune system that 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," says Higginbotham, the FDOH-Sarasota environmental administrator.
Other Sarasota County beaches were tested and are within the acceptable limits.