Swimming advisory issued for Cape Charles beach

CAPE CHARLES, Va. - On Wednesday, Health Department officials issued a swimming advisory for a local Virginia beach.

The Northampton County Health Department says on Wednesday, they issued a swimming advisory for the Cape Charles Town Beach in Cape Charles, VA. Officials say that recent testing by the Virginia Department of Health revealed that bacteria levels in the water exceeded the state water quality standards.

"The coastal waters of Virginia are generally very clean, and we test them frequently to confirm this," said District Health Director, David O. Matson, M.D., PhD. "On the occasions when waters do fail to meet the standards, we need to protect public health by letting residents and visitors know."

Signs have been posted at the Cape Charles Town Beach saying " Warning! Swimming Advisory- Bacteria Levels Do Not Meet State Water Quality Standards. Swimming Not Recommended Until Further Notice."

Officials report that recreational waters are monitored for bacteria using indicator organisms such as enterococci, the indicator of choice for estuarine and marine waters. According to the Health Department, Enterococci are a group of organisms used to determine the extent of fecal contamination of recreational waters. While they do not cause illness, scientific studies indicate that their presence is closely related to the presence of other disease-causing organisms. The health department warns that people swimming or playing in waters with bacteria levels higher than the standard have an increased risk of developing gastrointestinal illness.

Health officials say that they will continue testing the site, and they will remove the sign and notify the public again when the bacteria levels decrease to levels that meet the standard. Environmental health officials sample Cape Charles Town Beach on a weekly basis during the swimming season from June to September.

"We encourage the public to protect their health by complying with this advisory. Typically, an advisory of this nature is temporary and will be withdrawn once the bacteria levels have returned to a safe level." said Dr. Matson.

For more information on beach advisories call the Northampton County Health Department at 757-442-6228.

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