PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Beachgoers may want to avoid splashing around Rockaway Beach for awhile.
The Oregon Health Authority issued a public health advisory for the beach on Wednesday after fecal bacteria was discovered in the ocean water.
People should avoid direct contact with the water until the advisory is lifted.
OHA says exposure to fecal bacteria can lead to diarrhea, stomach cramps, skin rashes and upper respiratory infections and other illnesses. Officials warn those with weaker immune systems, including children, elderly and immunocompromised individuals, can be more susceptible to illness from the bacteria.
Fecal bacteria found in ocean water can come from storm water runoff, sewer overflows, failing septic systems, along with animal waste from livestock, pets and wildlife.
While the advisory is in effect, visitors should avoid wading in nearby creeks, pools of water on the beach and water runoff from the ocean. Health officials, however, say visitors can still walk and play along the sand.
In the coming days, officials say the ocean water will be re-tested to ensure bacteria levels are at a safe level.
Even if there is not a health advisory in effect, OHA says people should avoid swimming in the ocean within 48 hours of a rainstorm, due to the increased risk of fecal bacteria.