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Hawaii Officials Warn Tourists About High Bacteria Count At Beaches

By Parker Diakite

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Swimming at two of Hawaii’s most popular beaches can make you ill, according to a recent health advisory published by the Hawaii State Department of Health.

 

In a statement released by the department, health officials warn that Kuhio Beach in Waikiki and the Diamond Head portion of Ala Moana Beach have tested high for enterococci.

 

According to the health advisory, levels of 945 per 100 mL were detected at Kuhio Beach during routine beach monitoring; and levels of 164 per 100 ML were detected at Ala Moana Park during routine beach monitoring.

 

High levels of enterococci means that potentially harmful microorganisms such as bacteria, viruses, protozoa, or parasites, from sewage or fecal matter may be present in the water.

 

Photo| Hawaii State Department of Health

 

The advisory warns that children, the elderly, and people with weakened immune systems are most likely to develop illnesses or infections after coming into contact with polluted water.

 

“The most common illness associated with swimming in water polluted by fecal pathogens is gastroenteritis,” the Health Department said.  “Symptoms include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, headache or fever.”

 

Minor illnesses include ear, eye, nose, and throat infections. Swimmers can be exposed to more serious diseases when exposed to highly polluted water.

 

“Fortunately, while swimming-related illnesses can be unpleasant, they are usually not very serious,” the advisory also states. “They require little or no treatment or get better quickly upon treatment, and they have no long-term health effects.”

 

Officials also warn that not all illnesses stem from a day at the beach. They encourage beachgoers to be mindful of food poisoning from improperly refrigerated picnic lunches, which could also lead to some of the same symptoms as swimming-related illnesses, including stomachache, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea.

 

Advisories for both of these beaches will remain in effect until water sample results no longer exceed the threshold level of 130 enterococci per 100 mL.

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