OHA: ‘Unsafe’ levels of fecal bacteria at Cannon Beach

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Haystack Rock in Cannon Beach, September 3, 2021 (KOIN)

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Beachgoers are being told to avoid the water at Cannon Beach and Tolovana State Park Wednesday because of an unsafe level of fecal bacteria, the Oregon Health Authority announced.

According to OHA, going in the ocean around the two areas could cause diarrhea, stomach cramps, skin rashes, upper respiratory infections and other illnesses.

Children, elderly people and those with weakened immune systems should be extra cautious of the ocean water as they are more vulnerable to waterborne bacteria, health officials said.

Experts said the fecal bacteria comes from both the shore and inland. Stormwater runoff, sewer overflows, failing septic systems and animal waste from livestock, pets and wildlife contribute to the issue.

Nearby creeks, pools of water on the beach and runoff flowing into the ocean tend to have higher levels of fecal bacteria, and visitors should avoid touching or standing in them, OHA said.

Other activities limited to the beach and nearby land are safe, the authority noted.

Health officials will retest the water and let the public know when it is safe to return. As a general rule of thumb, OHA also told beachgoers to avoid the ocean for 48 hours after a rainstorm.

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