MIAMI BEACH, FLA. (WSVN) - Several beaches in Miami-Dade County have been placed under a no-swim advisory because of high amounts of enterococci bacteria found in the water.
The Florida Department of Health in Miami-Dade County issued the advisory, just before 5 p.m., Wednesday.
Health officials sample water from the beaches on a weekly basis as part of the Florida Healthy Beaches program. They confirmed the levels of enterococci bacteria exceeded the federal and state recommended standard after two consecutive water samples.
The advisory covers the following beaches:
- Surfside at 93rd Street
- North Shore at 73rd Street
- Collins Park at 21st Street
- South Beach at Collins Avenue and South Pointe Drive
- Virginia Beach
- Crandon Park North and South
7News cameras captured a lifeguard on a four-wheeler advising beachgoers to stay out of the water on North Shore, near 73rd Street, Wednesday afternoon.
“I think it’s disappointing because I was hoping to go in the water,” said a beachgoer.
“They were just blowing the whistles and waving everybody to come in,” another beachgoer said.
“My mom was in the water for a little while, and then the lifeguard suddenly called everyone out,” said beachgoer Emily Bencomo. “She went and asked a lifeguard, and the lifeguard said, ‘Oh, it’s a bacteria in the water. Everybody needs to get out.'”
7News cameras captured some beachgoers swimming in the water at a beach in Collins Park on 21st Street, disregarding the no-swim advisory, Thursday.
Speaking on the phone with 7News, Dr. Samir Elmir, a Florida Department of Health spokesperson, said it’s important for residents to heed the advisory.
“This is not a beach closure; this is a beach advisory. People, they may elect to swim on their own, but we hope the general public will follow the health advisory issued by the Department of Health in Miami-Dade County because it’s risk based,” he said. “It doesn’t mean that if you get exposed to the water, you’re going to get sick from it, but the chance will increase to get sick from it if you get exposed to it.”
Health officials said the presence of enterococci is an indicator of fecal pollution, which may come from storm water run-off, wildlife, pets and human sewage.
“Now that I hear about it, I’m not sure how to react,” Bencomo said.
“I just think that they should be more informative, and they should have warning signs not to go into the water because the bacteria is so high,” a beachgoer said.
Experts said people should avoid swimming in these areas because if they are exposed, they could experience symptoms like abdominal pain, vomiting, earaches and skin irritation.
Even though no beaches are being closed, some beachgoers said the warning was enough to keep them out.
“I’m not here to get in the water. I’m just here to enjoy the beach,” said Bencomo.
Health officials said people with weakened immune systems are particularly encouraged to remain out of the water at the listed locations.
Officials said they will test the water at each location on Thursday. The results are expected to come back Friday afternoon.
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