High bacteria levels – which can cause intestinal illnesses in humans – have health officials warning Georgians to think twice about swimming at the popular St. Andrews Beach at Jekyll Island.
"We're notifying the public that bacteria levels are up, due to the rain and all the activity," Bill Jenkins with the Glynn County Health Department told WSB TV.
Signs and orange flags at St. Andrews Beach warn swimmers to proceed with caution. The Health Department suggests swimmers go no further than waist deep into the water.
The beach water tested high for harmful bacteria that may cause illness ranging from a sore throat, ear infection, or diarrhea to more serious conditions in people with weakened immune systems, says the Georgia Department of Natural Resources.
Bacteria and other types of pollution frequently come from sewage overflows, storm water runoff, sewage treatment malfunctions, boating wastes, and malfunctioning septic systems are common sources These types of pollution are often highest after rain.
Anyone who swims at the beach should take precautions to wash their hands and body once they get out, health officials say. While fishing is still allowed, fishermen should thoroughly clean their catch and cook it through.
WSB says new water tests for the area will be out next week.
For more information about Beach Advisories issued in the Golden Isles, visit gahealthybeaches.org.