PORTLAND, Ore.—Oregon Health Authority (OHA) is issuing a public health advisory today for unsafe levels of fecal bacteria in ocean waters at Rockaway Beach in Tillamook County. People should avoid direct contact with the water in this area until the advisory is lifted.
Unsafe levels of fecal bacteria can cause diarrhea, stomach cramps, skin rashes, upper respiratory infections and other illnesses. Children, elderly and those with a compromised immune system should use extra caution as they are more vulnerable to illness from waterborne bacteria.
Visitors should avoid wading in nearby creeks, pools of water on the beach, or in discolored water, and stay clear of water runoff flowing into the ocean. Levels of fecal bacteria tend to be higher in these types of water sources.
Unsafe levels of fecal bacteria in ocean waters can come from both shore and inland sources including:
- Stormwater runoff.
- Sewer overflows.
- Failing septic systems.
- Animal waste from livestock, pets and wildlife.
Even if there is no advisory in effect, avoid swimming in the ocean within 48 hours after a rainstorm.
Ocean waters are re-tested after an advisory is issued. Once bacteria levels are at a safe level, OHA will notify the public that the advisory is lifted.
While this advisory is in effect at Rockaway Beach, state officials continue to encourage other recreational activities (flying kites, picnicking, playing on the beach, walking, etc.) on this beach because they pose no health risk even during an advisory.
For the most recent information on advisories, visit the Oregon Beach Monitoring Program website at http://www.healthoregon.org/beach or call 971-673-0482, or 877-290-6767 (toll-free).